As Faye recovers, Emma reluctantly delves into the busybody’s life of meddling and scuttlebutt. She has to clear her name before Faye falsely accuses her again, and besides, there’s a capricious parrot relying on her now.
What scandalous secrets has Faye unearthed? How many lives has she ruined or threatened to ruin? Plenty of people have a reason to hate her, but one in particular is driven to commit a brutal murder. Can Emma follow the clues to unmask the killer, or will she fall victim herself?
Faye Seymour, the reigning gossip queen of Greenville, California, reminds me of a child who feels she does not get enough attention from her parents and acts out, figuring that 'negative' attention is better than no attention at all. The story opens at a retirement party for a long-time city employee. Now, when I attend a retirement party, usually the soon-to-be retiree is the center of attention. That's the point, right?
Faye, a cousin of the retiree, flits through the party, upsetting oh, probably everyone with whom she talks, and causing a mild argument between her cousin and his wife. And the icing on that proverbial cupcake is that she thinks she is in the right, that she's 'just telling the truth' and is oblivious to the effect she has on other and their feelings towards her.
I will say this for Faye, she is an equal opportunity busybody-gossip. She knows things about most of the town and does not hesitate to spread it around. Most of the town holds ill will towards her, including the main character, Emma. Faye steered a future client of Emma's away by bringing up an incident in Emma's business past over which she had no control.
So, of course it would be Emma's luck to be taking a bag of things Faye had purchased from Emma's booth at the community rummage sale. With no answer at the front door, Emma goes around to the back and sees Faye laying at the bottom of a flight of outdoor stairs. When Emma goes to attempt to help, Faye shouted, "You pushed me," right before losing consciousness.
Faye spends most of the rest of the book either in the hospital or later, in a rehabilitation center. That was probably the safest for her. Unfortunately, she had a pet parrot (which was probably the only living creature in the world about which she never had anything bad to say), and naturally, Emma was roped in to caring for it while Faye was in rehab.
And there are plenty of people with plenty of juicy secrets in Greenville. And Faye has information on most of them. There is a woman living under an assumed name, on the run from an abusive ex-husband. There is a married town bigwig who hardly bothers to hide his affairs. There is a restaurateur she accused of violating zoning/safety laws, having an accident on the premises. There was her cousin's son whom she exposed for some infraction, which severely altered his after high school plans. The local LEOs have a huge job whittling that suspect list down to size.
Luckily our hardest job is finding enough uninterrupted time in the day to read Pushed to the Limit. Ms. Chester maintains the delicate balance between not enough description and too much most admirably. When I write, I tend to use too many words and too much description, so I really appreciate it when I find an author who does it just right.
Pushed to the Limit is the 2nd Emma Cassidy Mystery. The first was Throw a Monkey Wrench. A third installment, Murder Most Likely, is due out later this year. This is a wonderful chance to get in on a great series near the beginning!
MEET THE AUTHOR
Karen Chester is a mystery author who grew up watching Murder, She Wrote and reading Agatha Christie. She spends her days thinking up dastardly methods of murder and cunning red herrings.
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(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.)