Nestled in the barrier islands of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Fort Myers Beach is home to Mary “Sassy” Cabot and Bridget Mayfield—owners of the bookstore café, Read ‘Em and Eat. But when they’re not dishing about books or serving up scones, Sassy and Bridgy are keeping tabs on hard-boiled murder.
Read ‘Em and Eat is known for its delicious breakfast and lunch treats, along with quite a colorful clientele. If it’s not Rowena Gustavson loudly debating the merits of the current book club selection, it’s Miss Augusta Maddox lecturing tourists on rumors of sunken treasure among the islands. It’s no wonder Sassy’s favorite is Delia Batson, a regular at the Emily Dickinson table. Augusta’s cousin and best friend Delia is painfully shy—which makes the news of her murder all the more shocking.
No one is more distraught than Augusta, and Sassy wants to help any way she can. But Augusta doesn’t have time for sympathy. She wants Delia’s killer found—and she’s not taking no for an answer. Now Sassy is on the case, and she’d better act fast before there’s any more trouble in paradise.
Includes a buttermilk pie recipe!
A bookstore cafe, more cozy than a Barnes & Noble (sorry, I do love those stores), where the goodies and the good reads occupy the same space. And the tables are named after famous writers. And the co-owner's nickname is "Sassy", which fits her to a "tee". All these little extra touches of care by the author are very, very much appreciated! I LOVE IT!
The opening scene introduces us to many primary and secondary characters, and they are all well-'drawn'. The opinionated and intimidating pastor's wife, Jocelyn Randall; Rowena Gustafson, owner of a nearby business and Jocelyn's frequent nemesis; elderly cousins, Miss Augusta Maddox and Miss Delia Batson (and don't you dare leave off the 'Miss', as different in temperament as they are devoted to each other; Judge Harcroft, who always sits at the Dashiell Hammett table and makes inane "dash" puns, to name a few.
Whether they know it or not, they invite us into their story and make us feel right at home. You can read anything you want, eat anything you want, and say (just about) anything you want.
The first chapter ends with the cook, Miguel, being taken to the hospital because he broke his leg, a suspicious looking man asking the names of the two elderly ladies, and Mary Sassafrass ("Sassy") Cabot trying not to drool over the new top cop in town.
Unfortunately, as the title implies, somebody winds up dead, and that turns out to be Miss Delia Batson, the more unassuming of the cousins. Despite being able to take down treasure hunters with a withering stare and peppery words, Miss Augusta is bereft without her dearest friend. She extracts a promise from Sassy to find out 'whodunit'. Sassy intends on keeping her promise, much to the chagrin of the local constabulary, including the hunky new lieutenant in town. The closer Sassy gets to the crux of the mystery, the more dangerous it becomes for her and those around her, and the more determined she becomes to get justice for Miss Delia.
To stretch my own food metaphor for one more sentence, the icing on the cake is that "Well Read, Then Dead" is just the first of the Read Them and Eat Mysteries! I think I will have to put a bookshelf in my farmhouse kitchen, name my table after a rotating list of my favorite authors, and read each installment as it is released!
Twice short-listed for Best American Mystery Stories, Terrie Farley Moran’s cozy mystery novel, Well Read, Then Dead is the first book in the Read ’Em and Eat Café and Bookstore series. You can find Terrie blogging amid the grand banter of New York writers known as the Women of Mystery. Terrie tells anyone willing to listen that hanging out with any or all of her seven grandchildren provides life’s grand and joyful moments.
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