Deputy coroner Mattie Winston knows a thing or two about dead bodies. That’s why she’s on the case of Derrick Ames, a high school math teacher stabbed to death with a barbecue fork straight to the heart. Sure, she’s turned up some motives and a few suspects, but nothing adds up. Especially when the evidence points to Ames’s teenage son. Newly pregnant Mattie can’t believe it, even as her own long-estranged father may be following her. But one thing’s certain, she’d better start figuring things out fast, or a deadly perpetrator could be subtracting two more victims from the population of Sorenson, Wisconsin…
Right off the bat, I l.o.v.e.d. the cover of Stiff Penalty by Annelise Ryan. It's got that cute v. chilling "Bambi v. Gozilla" feel. what with the mischievous cat and the apple with the business end of a butcher knife stabbed into it.
In the 6th installment of the Mattie Winston Mysteries, Mattie finds herself pregnant by her detective boyfriend Hurley. Hurley doesn't know, because he is out of town at the funeral of his ex-wife with his daughter, about whom he did not know until a short time ago. Mattie is the Deputy Coroner for the town of Sorenson, before which she worked as an RN in the ER, until she found her then-husband David performing *ahem* an elective operation with a co-worker in a closet. To top things off, the police department is starting to video interrogations and searches in order to ensure proper procedure is followed, and the videographer just happens to be gorgeous and be attracted to Hurley. *WHEW*
No wonder Mattie needs to see a therapist! The inclusion of a therapist character surprised and thrilled me at the same time. Normally, you mention you're seeing a therapist and your 'friends' start making sure they have a safe getaway when you happen to meet. Mental health care is for everyone and offering glimpses into this field in a book is a boost in the area of lessening the stigma of dealing with mental health issues. Huzzah!
The only thing that caused me some confusion at the first was that Mattie's therapist is a Dr. Maggie, and I think there's a Mary character or two in the mix somewhere as well.
The older I get, the less I tolerate winter, so I could never live in Wisconsin, where Stiff Penalty is set. But I sure could see myself as friend with some of her citizens, Mattie and Izzy to start. They are warm and multidimensional and I would sure want them in my corner if I ran into problems ... or dead bodies. Stiff Penalty is a quick-paced, fast read with plenty of suspects to keep you guessing.
Annelise Ryan is the pseudonym for the author of three suspense novels and another mystery series. She has written more than 200 published articles, worked as a book reviewer for Barnes & Noble®, and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She currently works as a registered nurse in an E.R.
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(Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from the author and publisher via GEVBT in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)