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September 21, 2019

Last Pen Standing by Vivian Conroy ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

Good things come in threes and with her latest cozy mystery, Vivian Conroy more than delivers a good thing. Last Pen Standing is the first book in Conroy's new Stationery Shop Mystery series.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

September 2019; Poisoned Pen Press
978-1492684039; ebook, print (288 pages)
cozy mystery
Vivian Conroy has had a busy summer: releasing 3 new books. First, we had a new installment in the Murder Will Follow series, Honeymoon with Death. Then there was book two in the Merriweather and Royston Mystery series, Death Comes to Dartmoor. Conroy has really shown off her versatility as a writer. While all are cozy mysteries, they couldn't be more different. Honeymoon with Death (read my review) is part of her Agatha Christie tribute series set in the 1920s and featuring a retired Scotland Yard detective. Death Comes to Dartmoor (read my review) has become a new favorite series. While set in a time period I don't really read (the 1800s), I absolutely fell in love with Merula and Royston.

And now she has an original, contemporary cozy mystery. There is so much to love about Last Pen Standing, I'm not sure where to start.

It is set in a small western town that has embraced its gold rush heritage. This gives the town a quirky vibe and will allow for equally quirky characters to show up throughout the series as tourists. There are plenty of great characters in the residents as well. The Paper Posse (a crafting group) have the potential to bring their own wackiness to the stories.

At first, I wasn't sure if I would like Delta. Her grandmother has given money so that she can follow her dream. As a former ad executive, Delta wants a more creative career where she can be her own boss. So she becomes the co-owner of a stationary shop, Wanted, with her college roommate. The opening of the novel focuses on this career change and the first impression of Delta wasn't a good one for me. It is difficult to put into words what I felt about her. The word that comes to mind when I think of her is flighty, but I don't think that is quite right. Maybe I just felt she was a bit too idealistic about her career change. Or maybe she felt a bit clueless to me. Like I said, its difficult to describe what I felt about her at first.

However, as the novel progressed I enjoyed getting to know Delta and she kind of grew on me.

While Hazel is her business partner, she doesn't play a big role in the story. Instead, Delta's sleuthing is aided by former police officer turned wildlife guide and photographer Jonas Nord. He is definitely being set up as a love interest for Delta. They would make a cute couple as the chemistry between them was well written and I loved their interactions.

I have a minor criticism. Really it is minor and I wouldn't even mention it, but it kind of annoys me. There is a detail description of the food in the meals, that I felt were a little too detailed for a non-culinary cozy. And it probably wouldn't have bothered except I can tell you about turkey sandwiches, macaroons, almonds, and yogurt, but I can't remember what Delta, Jonas, or Hazel look like. Like I said, it's a minor complaint.

I've been reading a lot of historical cozy mysteries in the last few months, so it was a nice change to be in present-day. And Conroy really delivers a great mystery with fun characters that I look forward to seeing again. I think Last Pen Standing is the best all-around cozy mystery I read this summer. It hits all the major points of a great cozy mystery - wonderful, quirky characters, a colorful setting, and an excellent mystery that isn't quickly solved.

Buy Last Pen Standing at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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