Spiked Punch (Maddie Sparks Mystery Series)
by Lesley A Diehl
About Spiked Punch
Spiked Punch (Maddie Sparks Mystery Series)
1st in Series
Setting – Upstate New York
Camel Press (November 14, 2023)
Paperback : 248 pages
ISBN-10 : 1684921252
ISBN-13 : 978-1684921256
Digital ASIN : B0C6NR8C3G
On the other side of seventy, Maddie Sparks decides to spice up her life by changing her writing interests from cozy mysteries to romance. She also determines her appearance should reflect this transformation in her writing career. A sassy new haircut and more fashionable clothes complete the newer Maddie Sparks. Before she can begin this new chapter in her life, a stabbing death in the quiet country village she has made her home shocks the town’s residents.
When her son is accused of the murder, Maddie and the acting county sheriff come together to find the real killer. Their relationship soon blooms into more than one of shared determination to solve the murder. As they enjoy a hike in a nearby park, someone shoots the sheriff, barely missing Maddie. Another killer could be loose in the area, and the person may be closer to Maddie than she realizes. Maddie discovers parts of herself she didn’t know existed: real life romance with the sheriff, a talent for sleuthing and room in her life for a fuzzy, orange cat named “Spike.” This recent lease on life may be more exciting and more dangerous than Maddie expects.
In Spiked Punch we meet Maddie Sparks and she has plenty of sparks in her life. Maddie is a mature woman, over 70 with a healthy sense of humor. She has written several cozy mysteries since retiring from the library but is now switching things up by writing a steamy romance. She has also gotten a makeover to reflect the new direction. Her eldest son, Geoffrey has a meltdown and is totally against his mother writing or publishing such scandalous thoughts that include “bedroom activities”. He would rather hire her “to work for free” at his property management company.
Before she can get started on the new chapter of her life she finds one of Geoffrey’s clients dead and her son is a the top of the list of suspects. Maddie finds herself drawn to the new acting county sheriff and the feeling is mutual. What starts as a quest to find the real killer quickly evolves into a true romance. The killer knows that they are getting close and while Maddie and the good sheriff are taking a hike in a nearby park shots ring out barely missing Maddie and hitting Sheriff Zack Montgomery in the shoulder.
Maddie never imagined she would be in a killer’s sights, or that she would have a new romantic relationship, or that she would end up with a furry orange feline named Spike but now she knows to get on with this new life the killer needs to be caught and fast.
Maddie Sparks is an interesting and a little bit over-the-top protagonist but she is so darn funny. Her words and antics had me giggling in more places than I could count. I love that she is shaking up her life in her seventies. Her eldest son Geoffrey and his wife Abigail, are beside themselves with worry about her until the murder. Then they had other more important things to worry about. Their adult daughter Sara is clearly on her grandmother’s side. They have a great relationship. Maddie’s younger son, Richard is a criminal defense attorney and more laid back than his brother. He is also handy to have around when his brother is accused of murder. Sheriff Zack Montgomery is the county’s interim sheriff, mid-sixties, with silvery gray hair, tall, and fit, is “polite as well as handsome”, much smarter than his deputy, and someone Maddie wants to know better. All these characters are cleverly created and well-developed for the first book in a series.
The mystery surrounding the murder is complicated but Maddie and Zack work on it together. She has learned a few things from writing cozy mysteries but her sleuthing skills need a little work. Zach has the knowledge and sense needed to mostly keep them on track following clues. They sometimes get distracted by their feelings for each other. When Maddie’s ex returns on the scene things get even crazier. It all leads up to an exciting showdown.
Entertaining characters including a frisky feline, and a well-plotted mystery have set this new series off to a fun start. Spiked Punch was a Perfect Escape that I read all in one sitting. I am looking forward to seeing what Ms. Diehl has planned for these characters next.
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About Lesley A. Diehl
Cows, Lesley learned growing up on a farm, have a twisted sense of humor. They chased her when she went to the field to herd them in for milking, and one ate the lovely red mitten her grandmother knitted for her. Determining that agriculture wasn’t a good career choice, instead she uses her country roots and her training as a psychologist to concoct stories designed to make people laugh in the face of murder. “A good chuckle,” says Lesley,” keeps us emotionally well-oiled long into our old age.” She is the author of the Eve Appel mysteries from Camel Press as well as several cozy mystery series and numerous short stories. Go to her webpage to find out more: www.lesleyadiehl.com.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. 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.”