Title: Murder Most Lovely (Lacetown Murder Mysteries #1)
Author: Hank Edwards / Deanna Wadsworth
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Genre(s): Crime / Murder Mystery
Page Count: 270
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.60 stars out of 5
A killer at a small-town literary festival. Bumbling drug dealers. A kidnapped cat. Starting a romance among all this chaos might be the death of them.
Michael Fleishman is excited to meet his favorite mystery writer, Russell Withingham, at Lacetown’s Literary Fest. He is not expecting to cross paths with sexy hairdresser Jasper “Jazz” Dilworth—or become embroiled in a real-life mystery. As Lacetown’s only mortician and the county coroner, Michael is called to his first murder scene and is shocked to recognize the victim—Russell’s young lover.
Jazz only wanted to confront his ex, Russell, over his cheating. Instead, he meets the adorably awkward Michael and becomes a murder suspect. Soon Jazz is teaming up with Michael to clear his name. Along the way, they are helped and hindered by Michael’s sassy assistant, Kitty, the grumpy Sheriff Musgrave, Russell’s creepy PR rep, Norbert, and Michael’s lothario grandfather, who likes his manhattans strong and his women saucy. And of course, Mr. Pickles Furryton the Third….
Michael Fleishman is the forty-something, nerdy, and shy mortician / coroner of Lacetown, Michigan, situated on the shores of Lake Michigan. He loves his job, even though it means that more often than not, the people of his hometown treat him like a pariah. No one likes to be reminded of death (or their own mortality, for that matter). But he doesn’t care. Hook-ups are not his cup of tea (he prefers to play with his collection of sex-toys), and he has his kitty Mr. Pickles Furryton the Third and his books to keep him company. As luck would have it, Mr. Withingham, his favourite murder mystery writer, is in town for the annual Literary Fest. Michael grabs a pile of books and rushes over to get them signed. While waiting in the queue, he meets dashingly hot, late fortyish Jasper “Jazz” Dilworth, the new hairdresser in town, who turns out to be Withingham’s soon-to-be-ex-husband. Jazz doesn’t want any books to be signed by the author; he just wants to get the money the latter still owes him. Despite the slightly embarrassing scene Michael is forced to witness, he can’t deny the unsettling chemistry between him and Jazz.
But then the murdered and mutilated body of a young man is washed ashore. Michael recognizes Russell Withingham’s new paramour Dylan. When he examines the body, he discovers the youngster is carrying a stash of heroine up his rectum. Has he been caught up in a drug deal gone wrong? Or has Jazz killed him out of jealousy? If so, then why can’t Michael seem to keep his hands off the sexy hairdresser? How shall he deal with the obnoxious sheriff of Lacetown? That’s only the start of a thrilling catch-the-murder tale where romance has a place of honour.
I spent two swell evenings reading the well-written, well-paced novel. Michael is endearingly shy and a bit stiff in his human interactions. But lo and behold, once Jazz manages to get him out of his jeans and underwear, he turns out just as wild in bed as he’s been reserved in everyday life. Still waters do run deep. Jazz on the other hand has led an eventful life. He’s moved several times, has married Russell Withingham because he fancied himself in love, has left the author when finding out that the guy was chain-cheating on him, and has finally found his safe haven in tranquil, peaceful Lacetown. He’s a regular charmer, popular with men and women, laid-back and easy-going. The perfect Yin for Michael’s Yang. I really liked both characters and enjoyed their heart-warming romance. It was nice for a change to not read about two absolute hunks (they do find each other strikingly handsome, but don’t come across as two models off their catwalks, as is so often the case), but two average-looking guys in their middle-to-late forties. Jazz even turns out to be slightly paunchy—why on earth would I find that particularly charming? Surely has nothing to do with my own body evolving somewhat differently since I’ve passed the 30+ line… (you may add some more ++, in fact). The secondary characters (Michael’s buxom, viper-tongued secretary; the meaty sheriff; a bunch of third-rate wannabe criminals creating additional mayhem) make for some delicious and deliciously funny scenes and dialogues with the odd feel-good moment where I cried out “Atta boy!” because of some natty reply.
The murder mystery aspect is entertaining as well, well-crafted, with leads and misleads; the ending is perhaps a teensy bit far-fetched, but I don’t think the authors’ aim was to retell a real-life crime; they just wanted to present a nicely wrapped-up story, and they succeeded in drawing me in. The small-town setting was a nice touch, too—the interactions felt true, the people milling around real folk you could run across in any rural backwater. I for one will surely check out the next instalment of the “Lacetown Murder Mysteries”.
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