A Plus One For Murder Hits Shelves Next Tuesday!
A Plus One for Murder (A Friend for Hire Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – Tennessee
Berkley (December 7, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 0593334760
ISBN-13 : 978-0593334768
Kindle ASIN : B0921GHBCC
Entrepreneur Emma Westlake is reinventing herself as a hired friend when murder gets in the way in this exciting new mystery series from USA Today bestselling author Laura Bradford.
Emma Westlake has always wanted to be in business for herself. As a kid, she had her own successful lemonade stand and dog-walking business. And when she entered adulthood, Emma sunk all her cash into her dream job of travel planning. But as her customers became more and more internet savvy, the need for her services declined. At a loss for what to do next, she turns to an elderly friend who suggests she try to get paid for doing something she’s really good at–being a paid companion. Emma thinks it’s a crazy idea until requests start pouring in. Big Max from down the block wants her to act as his wingman at the local senior center’s upcoming dance, nurse practitioner Stephanie needs a workout partner, and writer Brian Hill asks Emma to be his cheering section at an open mic night.
Brian will be reading from his latest work and wants to know someone will clap for him when he’s done. When Emma balks at the notion that people wouldn’t, he tells her the room will be filled with people he’s invited–most of whom will likely want him dead by the time he’s done reading. Assuming he’s joking, she laughs. But when Brian steps up to the mic and clears his throat to speak, he promptly drops dead. Emma is one of the last people to see him alive, and so she becomes an immediate suspect. Now she’ll have to cozy up to a killer to save her skin and her new business.
When her travel planning business dries up Emma Westlake is at a loss of where to turn. She likes being her own boss but feels she may have no other option but go to work for someone else. That is until her friend Dottie comes up with a crazy plan. Emma is already getting paid to visit Dottie, an arrangement set up with her husband before he passed away. Why can’t she do that for other people? Dottie even has some ideas of people who could use such a service.
After Dottie sends two clients her way Emma takes the plunge and advertises her services on a community bulletin board and quickly gets an inquiry from a local writer who wants Emma to cheer him on when he appears at an open mike night. When she arrives he slips her a folder containing pictures of people, all of whom are in the audience, who he knows will not be happy with the poem he plans to read. Boy, was the man right. Before he finished the first stanza, he keeled over dead.
Emma is at the top of the suspect list because she was the last person to talk to him but also because she left the scene of the crime before the police arrived. Now to save her business she needs to clear her name. This new friend for hire is going to need some help from her old friend Dottie and her new friend Stephanie to do just that. Will their investigation rival Holmes and Watson or The Three Stooges? Only time will tell.
Laura Bradford always creates such fascinating characters and she has introduced some in this story that I am positive will grow into what I have seen her do before. Emma likes being independent but her confidence has taken a major hit which has caused her to withdraw into herself. Thankfully she has Dottie in her corner. Dottie is a sharp as a tack with great instincts and a cozy mystery lover to boot. She also has the connections Emma needs to make her new business a success.
Enter Stephanie, the daughter of one of Dottie’s friends who has a great job but still lives with her mother and hasn’t been taking good care of herself. Something I found strange for someone of her profession. She contacts Emma for help getting her life in order and I loved helps Emma right back.
Emma really didn’t want to delve into any investigation but Dottie and Stephanie dragged her right into it. I know we have barely scratched the surface on the development of these characters and I am excited to see them grow.
The mystery was very entertaining especially because the deceased had gathered many guilty parties together at the scene of the crime. I knew what the method of death was immediately but had no clue about who actually did the deed. The author dished up a plethora of twists and misdirections to really keep me on my toes.
I really enjoyed the way Dottie’s cozy mystery fandom played a part in this story. Name-dropping is always fun too. I bet Dottie’s and my bookshelves are quite similar.
I absolutely love the Friend for Hire theme. In this first book, we saw a small sample of possibilities. I can see a long-running series with this theme and all kinds of circumstances that could lead to murder.
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About the Author
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”