Meet Isabel Puddles by M.V. Byrne
I quite enjoyed this first Mitten State cozy mystery, set in a small town on the coast of Lake Michigan. Isabel Puddles, a widow and empty nester, makes ends meet by working in her cousin Freddie’s hardware store and also by selling pies, pickles, and knitted scarves. When she has time, Isabel and her dog, Jackpot, enjoy the view from her lakeside deck. Isabel, as a local rather than a tourist, gets a discount on her daily breakfasts at the café with her outspoken friend Frances. On rare occasions, Isabel helps out at the funeral home, styling hair and makeup, which leads to evidence that her friend Meg’s elderly father didn’t die from natural causes. Isabel investigates, with the help of her friends, who add comic relief, though I would have liked a little less reckless driving. A potential wind farm, a hidden beaver dam, and some unexpectedly rickety steps add to the mystery, while the pacing and suspense increase as Isabel gets closer to the killer or killers. Readalike mysteries include The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree by Susan Wittig Albert, Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake by Sarah Graves, and A Crafter Knits a Clue by Holly Quinn. This was a pleasant read to start the new year.