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February 3, 2022

Live, Local, and Dead by Nikki Knight ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

I'm always on the lookout for new cozy mysteries, so I decided to check out Nikki Knight's new series which starts with Live, Local, and Dead. It was a bit different than other cozies I've read, but that isn't a bad thing. 

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

Live, Local, and Dead
February 2022; Dreamscape Media; 9781666533880
audio (8h 43m); ebook, print; cozy mystery

Jaye Jordan has moved back to her small hometown in Vermont to run the local radio station. Not everyone is happy about it, especially after she fires the ranting radio host that has quite a loyal follower. Fed up with the protesters, she fires a warning shot into a snowman. Unfortunately, someone had buried a body in the snowman. The dead body isn't Jaye's only concern. There's the matter of a pipe bomb at the radio station (which has an upstairs apartment where she lives) and then there was the threat with a graffitied swastika. In the midst of all this craziness, she also might get her chance to fall in love with an old crush.

From the cover and the storyline, Live, Local, and Dead looks like a cozy mystery and it is billed as a cozy. But in a lot of ways, it felt more like a regular mystery with a few cozy mystery tropes thrown in so that it is a lighter read.

I've mentioned before that I don't read many cozy mysteries that feature a parent. Jaye is a divorcee who has a 10-year-old daughter. She is friends with her ex and their divorce is the main reason for the move back to Vermont. It meant she would be closer to her ex, not because she wanted to get back together with him, but because it would be easier for her daughter to keep her father in her life.

Another difference from the other cozies I read - Jaye is Jewish. She converted when she married her ex. I can't think of another cozy mystery that I read that has a Jewish main character. This allows for the story to address issues of antisemitism.

The biggest difference though is how the mystery is handled. Jaye isn't your typical cozy mystery sleuth. It didn't really feel like she was trying to solve the mystery. Her part in solving the mystery was more like what would happen in real life. The police are competent and she doesn't intentionally try to insert herself into the investigation. She helps the investigation but it feels more natural. For example, the sheriff is following up with her to give her an update on the case, and when there is mention of a certain medication, Jaye makes a comment that gives him a new idea to chase.

I liked the characters. As this is the first book in the Vermont Radio Mystery series, there is a lot of "getting to know the characters" moments. Most of it is just regular life stuff - Jaye setting up the radio station to air while she is away from the studio, hanging out with her daughter, there's an ice storm. The only real cozy mystery trope of town/character quirkiness is a moose who likes candy and has a pretty bad case of gas.

The audiobook was really well done. Perhaps it was because introducing the characters and the town was the focus of this book, but it wasn't difficult at all to follow the story. The narrator Sarah Beth Goer gives each character their own unique voice. Sometimes when there is a kid in an adult book, the kid will either sound very childish, a lisp or slow speech pattern, or the child sounds too adult. I thought Goer did a great job making Jaye's daughter and her friend sound like the 10-year-olds they are supposed to be.

If you love cozy mysteries and like to start at the beginning, then make arrangements to get this book on Tuesday.

Buy Live, Local, and Dead at Amazon

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