Author: Stacy Verdick Case
Genre:Adult Suspense, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Before The Fall Books
Publication Date: August 9,2011
Source: a copy was provided by the author, which she kindly inscribed for me, and Partners in Crime Tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.
A Grand Murder is the first book in the Catherine O'Brien mystery series. When a prominent local businessman and friend of the chief of police is murdered on the front steps of his post Grand Avenue Hill home, Catherine O'Brien, a pithy, vertically challenged, St. Paul, Minnesota homicide detective with a monstrous coffee habit and her partner Louise are given two days to find his killer. They soon discover their victim had a list of people with motives to murder him, including his fashion designer ex-wife, his mistress' husband, and the chief of police. The only evidence they have to go on is a missing cell phone, a stolen book, the victim's letter opener, and an ugly pair of Alpaca wool mittens.
It is not often that I come across a laugh-out-loud book that also provides that sense of mystery and drama that I crave, but author Stacy Verdick Case has filled all that criteria with A Grand Murder! I absolutely loved this novel, hated to put it down, and especially hated for it to end!
Catherine O'Brien is a cheeky police detective who, with her partner Louise, has a limit of two days to discover who murdered the chief of police's friend and subsequently the victim's business partner. Two days to piece together a puzzle which typically lasts weeks, months, or sometimes, years. As unrealistic a goal that is, Catherine and her police partner Louise tackle the case, sleeping little, consuming caffeine to stay awake, and find that the initial victim has an enormous list of potential suspects who wanted him dead.
"You see I am a very busy woman, and I hate to be kept waiting. I'm trying to figure out who killed Mr. Forster's business partner. I'm sorry that the killer didn't give us advance warning so we could make an appointment...." [Catherine O'Reilly in response to the receptionist who explained they would have to wait a while to see Mr. Forster as they didn't have an appointment.] "Mr. Forster is very busy this morning, and you didn't have an appointment. I'm sure you can understand." [said the Este Lauder-esque secretary.] (page 17, A Grand Murder)
Catherine has a bit of a tendency to just say what pops in her mind, which can and does create problems for her but it makes for a very entertaining read. On pages 106-113, as Catherine and Louise are about to interview/question a Mr. Philip Carter to ascertain possible motives, the most funny of scenarios takes place regarding Mr. Carter hiding behind the door of a conference room and subsequently getting accidentally slammed by the door as Louise walks in looking for him. He falls to the floor, nose bloody and unconscious! The dialogue that follows between the two detectives had me enjoying a rather good chuckle. I was so amused I turned over the corner of the page so I might find it again to enjoy it once more.
"Neither of us made a move toward him.He didn't move.Lousie pressed her hands into the small of her back. 'Why the hell was he hiding back there?''Maybe you should ask him,' I said.Still neither of us moved. We just stared at Philip Carter, unconscious at our feet.'I am not taking any of the blame for this. This one's all yours Louise. I think you killed him.'....[after calling his name and getting no response, Louise proceeded to shake him] with enough force to make his head flop around like a rag doll.'I don't think you're supposed to jar a victim like that, Louise. What if you broke his neck?'..."He doesn't look good,' I plopped my ass into a soft conference chair and leaned over him to get a better look. 'At the very least, you broke his nose.' (page 106, A Grand Murder)
The above quote from the dialogue between Louise and Catherine is just a minuscule taste of the "back and forth" between these two detectives who actually have a great deal of respect for each other. I love the banter between the two of them. The entire novel is full of entertaining if satirical humorous interaction and situations. Despite some errors in spelling, A Grand Murder is a well-written debut novel.
One might call A Grand Murder a cozy mystery as it certainly is an easy book to curl up with and read in one sitting. If ever you want something light and highly entertaining in a mystery, I definitely recommend A Grand Murder! I'm happy to inform you that it is but the first in what will be here-to-fore known as the "Catherine O'Brien Mysteries". The next in the series to be released soon is Murder is a Family Affair, and Stacy is currently working on the third.
Warning to sensitive readers: some language