Book Review: “Dead-End Detective,” by Amanda Flower

Hello, all! I am so ridiculously happy to be reviewing Dead-End Detective for multiple reasons: I received the ARC from Netgalley and Hallmark Publishing, I am obsessed with Hallmark Mystery Movies, and my new job is killing me so much that this is the only book I have finished in ages. It helped that this book was ridiculously readable, like all Amanda Flower books (this is my third book review for her). Without further ado…


From the Publisher:

They were the Two Girls Detective Agency.
Now, one of them is dead,
and the other is suspected of murder.


Darby Piper is in shock. Samantha Porter—her mentor and business partner at Two Girls Detective Agency—has died in a car crash, and it doesn’t look like an accident. In fact, evidence is pointing toward Darby.


Darby had expected to inherit Samantha’s half of the agency, but Samantha had recently changed the will to leave it to Tate Porter, her nephew, who returns to town.


Tate is no P.I. He’s a veteran, a world traveler, and something of a mystery himself. But as he helps Darby delve into secret histories and real estate development plans, he does seem to have a knack for the job. Will the agency have a future…even if Darby can prove her innocence in time?


What I Loved:

  • The Setting. It is actually kind of funny, because I was up on Seneca Lake just three weeks ago in Watkins Glen. Reading Dead-End Detective felt exactly as it felt to be there – strong lake wind, beautiful foliage, sharp curving roads, and charming Victorian homes. I love that this is set in the autumn right before the freeze, and (morbidly speaking) that the murder occurred on one of those crazy turns on a wet night. Darby’s runs really highlight the town, and her observations about the town bring so much color to the book.
  • Tate and Darby. I don’t normally like any hint of a love triangle, and I generally kind of hate the broody ex-Army type of love interest (been there, done that), but Tate and Darcy just work. Darcy is a short feisty private eye who will stop at nothing to get to the truth, Tate is the funny drifter who everyone likes and has a dark past, and they go together like bread and butter. Tate brings a sense of humor to the book that Darby sometimes lacks, and Darby brings a passion for the job that Tate needs for direction. I would love to see them blossom into an actual romance.
  • Mrs. Berger and Romi the cat. Mrs. Berger is the neighbor I have always wanted and never had: Protector of wild lands, fighter of bureaucracy, wonderful cat mom, and kick ass wielder of the deadly cane. Her and Darcy’s interactions are some of my favorites, mostly because I love that Darcy has an actual procedure for getting the cat out of the tree with minimal injury to herself. Mrs. Berger and Romi really “sold” the small town feel of Dead-End Detective, and they were almost more realistic than the main characters.

What Didn’t Work *As* Well

  • The Murder Mystery. Okay so here is a caveat – I think the mystery was “built” really well. There were breadcrumbs, and I could follow the linear progression of the mystery to eventually finding the killer. However, I did feel like there were a whole bunch of loose ends that were kind of left floating because the “Aha!” moment didn’t require them to be tied up. While this is a minor gripe, it did leave me feeling slightly less satisfied. I also felt like the police, while not shown as incompetent, weren’t shown much at all except in the context of Darby’s ex-boyfriend trying to keep her out of jail. I would have liked a little more face time to juxtapose their procedure with Darby’s, especially since she is literally a PI.
  • First Person Narrative. This is a pretty normal gripe for me, especially with cozies, but the trend still hasn’t died. I am guessing the first person narrative is popular because it is “easy,” but it is just a cheap way to tell instead of show without it seeming as obvious. However, no one talks or internally monologues about themselves as much as a cozy heroine does, and Darcy is no exception. While I like that Darcy is short, feisty, and passionate about her job, I would have rather seen that in her actions instead of by reading her intensely self aware thoughts. Can we all come together and stop the spread of first person narratives?

Conclusion:

I loved Dead-End Detective, and besides a minor gripe about the mystery progression and the POV, this is shaping up to be an A+ series. It reads just like it will probably be on screen, and I am as excited to watch it as I was to read it. I highly recommend to all cozy lovers and people who love the Seneca Lake region, cat lovers and PI mystery buffs. Four waves out of five, but really 4.5. Go buy your copy here!

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