Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
Today I am pleased to share my thought about Live, Local, and Dead by Nikki Knight!
Live, Local, and Dead (A Vermont Radio Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – Vermont
Crooked Lane Books (February 8, 2022)
Hardcover : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 1643859455
ISBN-13 : 978-1643859453
Kindle ASIN : B094GMSQ17
Death waits for snowman in Nikki Knight’s new Vermont-based cozy series, perfect for fans of Connie Archer and Mary Kennedy.
In a fit of anger, radio DJ Jaye Jordan blows a snowman’s head off with a Revolutionary War-style musket. But the corpse that tumbles out is all too human. Jaye thought life would be quieter when she left New York City and bought a tiny Vermont radio station. But now, Edwin Anger—the ranting and raving radio talk show host who Jaye recently fired—lies dead in the snow. And the Edwin Anger fans who protested his dismissal are sure she killed him.
To clear her name, Jaye must find the real killer, as if she doesn’t have her hands full running the radio station, DJing her all-request love song show, and shuttling tween daughter Ryan to and from school. It doesn’t make matters easier that the governor—Jaye’s old crush—arrived on the scene before the musket smoke cleared. Fortunately, Jaye has allies…if you count the flatulent moose that lives in the transmitter shack, and Neptune, the giant gray cat that lives at the station.
If Jaye can turn the tables on the devious killer, she and the governor may get to make some sweet, sweet music together. But if she can’t, she’ll be off the air…permanently.
Jaye Jordan has come home to take over the radio station where she got her start after a very tumultuous time. She and her husband have divorced following the survival of his cancer treatments. Their daughter Ryan spends the weekdays with Jaye and weekends with her dad, David.
Jaye has taken the station away from its talk format back to music and some of her listeners are not having it. In fact, they are staging a protest at the station. At the end of her rope, Jaye heads outside, grabs a Revolutionary style musket from one of the protesters, and turns and fires blowing the head off a 10-foot high snowman left over from the winter festival. As the rest of the snowman falls apart a body is discovered. Edwin Anger was a right-wing talk show host that had been fired by Jaye due to the new format and now people think she killed him and hid his body inside the snowman. She wants to clear her name but people convince her to leave the matter to the police.
As the police investigate someone turns up the dial and threatens Jaye and her daughter with everything from horrific graffiti to a pipe bomb. To bide her time Jaye spends more time rekindling a relationship with a man she had a huge crush on years ago. But the killer is not giving up and Jaye may find herself and her station down the tubes forever.
First, I am so thankful my cancer diagnosis and treatment did not destroy my marriage. My family was my rock. I was sad to see how easily Jaye and David’s marriage fell apart and how easily they just got on with their lives. I think this is the reason I had a hard time connecting with these characters. I wish we would have had more of a backstory with them because I hope there was more drama and feelings that led up to what to me would be a major event but came off as a minor one in this story, especially because she converted to Judaism for this man.
Next, the writing style/dialogues gave me some issues. Jaye just seemed all over the place. Her station is her focus along with her daughter. Then you throw in her budding relationship with the governor, and spending time with her friends next door and sometimes this all seems to happen within one page of the story. In a normal cozy mystery, finding a killer would be in the mix too but Jaye seems to have a real lackadaisical attitude about the murder even when trouble comes knocking right at her door.
What I did like about the book was the strong relationship Jaye and David have with their daughter. They come together each Friday evening for the ritual of Shabbat. They have moved to be far enough apart to have their own lives but close enough to be available to her for anything that comes up. And they have good honest conversations with her about anything she asks. Jaye and David have a great co-parenting system and they are going to need it as this series continues and the murder drama ensues.
I do wish Jaye would have had a more active part in the murder investigation and the mystery would have been harder to solve. A complex mystery is always hard in the first book of a series because it takes pages to introduce the characters and the setting leaving less room to develop a complicated plotline. Vermont is a fabulous place for a cozy mystery to take place. And we do meet some unique characters in this story including a wonderful wild moose with a sweet tooth but I feel the characters could have been more fleshed out in this book to start the series. It is clear the author knows the radio business and it has been an important part of her life but I need her protagonist to be a more well-rounded character with a more serious nature when called for.
I do love the radio station theme and Live, Local, and Dead has good bones. I think it just needs a little tweaking going forward with the series. Ms. Knight has the humor and small-town setting right for a cozy mystery series. I do think the romantic scenes played too big of a part in the story taking over where the mystery should have played the leading role. I hope to see more character development and a more complicated mystery with the main character more involved as the series continues. This story does have a political slant due to the victim and the governor being involved and that may be off-putting to some readers as would the explicit language used. All in all, I am holding out hope that the second book in the series will fall more into the cozy realm I am used to because I do want to give these characters another chance. I am rounding up to 4 stars.
About the Author
Author. Anchor. Mom…not in that order.
Nikki Knight aka Kathleen Marple Kalb grew up in front of a microphone, and a keyboard. She started her radio career as a teenage DJ at a small station in her hometown of Brookville, Pennsylvania, and despite a brief flirtation with advanced study in history before taking her B.A. at the University of Pittsburgh (her mother will never forgive her for turning down an assistantship at William and Mary), worked her way up through newsrooms in Pittsburgh, Vermont, and Connecticut, to New York. But she never wore her Phi Beta Kappa key again after her first day at KDKA, when she accidentally hung up on a U.S. Senator. Her broadcast career went significantly better after that, including a number of regional Edward R. Murrow awards in Vermont, and her current post as a weekend morning anchor at 1010 WINS, New York’s top all-news station.
At age sixteen, she wrote her first historical novel, which thankfully did not find a publisher, though a couple of editors did actually read it. Her Vermont story, “Bad Apples” was recently named an Honorable Mention in the 2021 Black Orchid Novella Award contest. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and son in a house owned by their cat.
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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.”