The clues to a Brooklyn murder unspool on a mixtape in what might be a new mystery subgenre—the hipster cozy.
When Jett Bennett finds her downstairs neighbor, KitKat, murdered, she vows to find out who would bludgeon the party promoter to death. Clues in a mixtape sent by a secret admirer (and mistakenly delivered to Jett's place) lead to past loves and leave Jett toggling between detective work and revisiting her own romantic past. Debut novelist Cudmore balances the crime and romance well and infuses the story with the exhilaration of shared musical tastes and the way they can amplify emotions. Short chapters are each given song titles that comment on what's to come. Humor about the "east of Williamsburg" neighborhood where Jett sublets her grandmother's apartment is biting but affectionate—the effort required for her to find a cassette player when everyone has thrown over CDs for the polar extremes of vinyl and digital playlists offers a nice snapshot of this vegan, gluten-free world. Jett's quests for justice and a decent boyfriend keep things suspenseful until the inevitable reveal of whodunit; it's the story's weakest point, but that's normal for a cozy, where life and death can hinge on a good brownie recipe, quilt pattern, or song selection for karaoke. Jett is adorkable, a striver stuck at a dead-end temp job whose romantic fantasies lean toward Jack McBrayer and Adam Scott; her best friend, Sid, has McBrayer's Southern charm, but when he falls for a stripper at a local club, her hopes are dashed. Well, briefly dashed—this is a cozy, remember. Stories of the murdered KitKat paint a portrait of a neighborhood fixture who was loved by all but known well by only a few and add depth and soul to the story. By the end, readers will also mourn her passing.
A mystery that will inspire more than one playlist and, hopefully, a sequel.