Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
Today I am featuring
A Streetcar Named Murder today by T. G. Herren today!
A Streetcar Named Murder (New Orleans Mystery, A)
1st in Series
Setting – Louisiana
Crooked Lane Books (December 6, 2022)
Hardcover : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 1639101322
ISBN-13 : 978-1639101320
Kindle ASIN : B09TZNPL69
Blackmail in the Big Easy turns to cold-blooded murder in this debut cozy mystery perfect for fans of Jane K. Cleland.
When the mysterious letter arrives by courier, Valerie Cooper doesn’t know what to make of it. She’s become the beneficiary of her late husband’s estranged uncle’s will—a man she never knew—and inherited a majority partnership in the family’s company, New Orleans Fine Antiques. Valerie knows nothing about antiques, but she decides to learn the business and become an active partner. She’s also got her hands full fending off Collette, a woman who wants to sell the huge old house in the Irish Channel neighborhood Valerie and her husband painstakingly renovated.
Valerie isn’t interested in selling—but when her best friend Lorna, drags her to a costume party for the women’s Mardi Gras club, the Krewe of Athena, she stumbles over Collette’s body, a jeweled dagger sticking out of her chest. In a rush of panic, Valerie recognizes the dagger from her shop—and before she knows it, she’s become murder suspect number one.
Egged on by Lorna, she starts digging into Collette’s business dealings, and the deeper she digs, the dirtier it gets. Now all fingers are pointing at Valerie. In a desperate bid to clear her name, Valerie frantically tries to find who could have gotten hold of the dagger. But among a cadre of guests in full costume, it could be impossible to find the thief—and unmask the real killer.
Valerie Cooper lost her husband, Tony, the love of her life, in an on-the-job accident as a fireman a few years ago leaving her to raise their twin sons alone. She was very involved in activities when the boys were in school but they have now gone away to college and Valerie is dealing with an empty nest and looking for ways to fill her days. Thankfully she has a great friend and next-door neighbor, Lorna who does her best to keep Valerie busy.
Then Valerie receives a puzzling letter from an attorney telling her she has been named in Tony’s uncle Arthur’s will. She didn’t even know Tony had an uncle, Arthur. After meeting with the lawyer she learns he had quite an estate. A trust has been set up for her sons and she has inherited a majority interest in an antique store, New Orleans Fine Antiques. Not knowing much about antiques she is excited to learn and looks forward to working there. But everyone is not happy about her inheritance.
Collette, a real estate agent has been after Valerie to sell her house claiming she has a perfect buyer. Valerie and Collette’s sons all attended the same school and while they worked together, they were definitely not friends. And she really does not want to sell her house.
After several tries to dissuade Collette, someone else takes care of the problem. When Valerie attends a Mardi Gras Masquerade party with Lorna she finds Collette’s dead body outside of the event. A jeweled dagger stuck in her chest. A dagger from New Orleans Fine Antiques, Valerie’s new inheritance.
Now high on the suspect list Valerie must do everything she can to clear her name and reveal the real killer before she becomes their next victim.
I really loved the way this story started.
The first rule of life in New Orleans is Any time you leave your house not looking your best, you’ll run into your nemesis.
What a great first line. You just know this has happened before to main character Valerie Cooper and it is about to happen again. I could tell immediately I was going to enjoy this author’s sense of humor and was looking forward to a story full of it. Sadly that was not the case. I liked Valerie but the humor wasn’t at the level I had expected. She spent a lot of time lamenting about her life and things her husband didn’t tell her or things she didn’t care to know at the time but he really should have told her anyway. I also hated that she picked up on phrase from Collette and carried it and repeated it over and over again. A lot of this was set up by the premise of the story, which I loved, an unexpected inheritance that was going to change her life and connections to the people involved. It was just offputting the way it was dwelled on over and over again.
I did love Valerie’s friend Lorna. (Not Lauren as stated on the book cover text and the online synopsis.) A well-known author that loved to live life to the fullest even with a mother that drove her crazy with her daily calls. Lorna is a confident woman who doesn’t care what other people think. She is funny, kind, has no trouble speaking her mind, and is a great friend to Valerie. At the masquerade party, she was drinking bad wine and out on the dance floor having a great time while Valerie was a wallflower, sitting in a corner complaining about her sore feet and eavesdropping on other guests. Okay, what she heard started the ball rolling to finding a dead body but the girl needs to learn how to have some fun.
Surprisingly that ball rolling didn’t happen until more than halfway through the book. This story had a clear case of first story in the series – itis. The author had to introduce all the characters, set up their connections, and give enough of a backstory for the story to go in the direction he wanted. Then he had to get to the murder and its aftermath. Because of that, it is really hard to plot out a complex mystery within the pages allowed. This one was really easy to solve. We knew early who the victim would be and what weapon would be used. I found myself just waiting for it to happen. Then as suspects were revealed and questions were asked the twists turned out to be very minor leaving the Whodunit factor a little lacking.
I did enjoy the setting of the Big Easy, a place filled with possibilities of murder and mayhem. The information about the Krewes was very interesting. The descriptions of all the places were nice but sometimes the minute details got to be a little much.
All that being said, there are some good bones here. We now know the characters and there is plenty of room for development. This gives the author the opportunity to give readers a slam-bang mystery with a lot of depth and twists in book two. I would like to visit these characters again to see what happens next. I do hope the humor found at the beginning of this book shines all the way through the next one and that there is less repetition and detail of known things.
A Streetcar Named Murder is a satisfactory start for this series. I hope the author pulls everything together for the next installment and the publisher fixes Lorna’s name in the synopsis of this one soon.
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About T.G. Herren
T. G. Herren is the pen name of an award-winning author who has published over thirty-six books and over fifty short stories under various names. Herren is a long-time resident of New Orleans, where every day is Anything Can Happen Day. Herren has also worked as a sports/fitness journalist, an editor, and spent far too many years working in the airline industry.
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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.”