A bar owner takes on the role of detective in the first installment of Kirsch’s (The Big Job, 2018, etc.) new mystery series.
Janet Black is the proprietor of a friendly neighborhood bar in Knoxville, Tennessee, called the Spot. She loves the place, but she finds that managing it presents some challenges; for example, it appears that one of her employees has been stealing from the register, and she’s focused on finding the culprit. Then one day, she discovers a dead body behind the bar. It’s Ike Freeman, a formerly troublesome regular. The police attempt to pin the murder on Janet’s sexy boyfriend, Jason, a security expert with a juvenile criminal record for computer hacking. To clear his name, Janet decides to do a little digging on her own. It also turns out that Ike had a rough past in which he left a trail of destruction. Then one of Janet’s employees, who likely has knowledge of the crime, disappears—and so does Jason. She later finds evidence of police corruption, and when another body turns up in the bar, Janet escalates the investigation further; she eventually gets all the suspects together in one room—a move reminiscent of Agatha’s Christie’s legendary detective Hercule Poirot. Kirsch’s witty whodunit includes plenty of red herrings and a long list of potential suspects with plausible reasons to commit murder. The protagonist, a minor character from the author’s Stella Reynolds series, is a little rough around the edges, but readers will find her to be likable enough to carry her own story. She’s sharp, she swears, and she’s not always right, but she does everything with an appealing sense of humor. This novel doesn’t break any new ground; it’s a light, cozy mystery with a charismatic female lead and a quirky cast of characters, including a handsome love interest in the background. However, it’s excellent escapist entertainment.
A familiar but action-packed whodunit.