Mama's fixin' to get hitched to Husband #5. But first, she coerces her daughter, Mace, to saddle up for some country-gal bonding on the Florida Cracker Trail.
The trek takes a deadly turn when Lawton Bramble—wealthy rancher and one-time beau of Mama's—keels over in his Cow Hunter Chili. Lawton had a horde of enemies and a famously bad ticker. Could a grudge-wielding rival have "spiced" the cattleman's chow?
With (or maybe despite) the help of her sisters and her sexy ex-beau, Detective Martinez, Mace sets out to corral a low-down varmint who's determined to kill again.
Re-read update: This book did not hold up well on re-read. I had the same issue with the re-invention of the first book’s history, and the rest of it, even though I didn’t remember who the murderer was, I found extremely tedious and meandering.
Although not about to say "I do" anytime soon, hip party-planner Madeline Bean is no stranger to the phenomenon known as the LA wedding; the good, the bad and the kind where the party lasts longer than the marriage. Still, Maddie never expected to be the guest of Vivian Duncan, the West Coast's grande dame of wedding consultants, at a lavish affair held amidst the dramatically lit fossils in the Nature Museum's Hall of Dinosaurs.
While checking out the glittering event, Maddie, with her keen event planner's instinct, realizes something is not quite right, but what? The groom is on time. The bride is beautiful. And a corpse wearing a Cartier bracelet is dangling from the triceratops skeleton. Ah, yes.
That. With people disappearing and the bride in tears, Maddie just may be the next species to become extinct...unless she can reveal the murderer fast.
Quicker than she can whip up a white chocolate wedding cake, Maddie follows the trail deep into dark jungles---urban and otherwise---amid tantalizing tales of smuggled gems, while fending off a nervous bridegroom, a crazed carjacker, and a half-naked ice-sculptor and his trusty chainsaw. Along the way, she discovers something old, something new, something deadly and something a wedding pro should never, ever do.
I love this book, it holds up so well to re-reading. Part of what makes the story so fascinating is what the author shares in her acknowledgements at the start of the book. A chance meeting with a fascinating gentleman in a crammed hotel breakfast room, and the background of this book is born.
Maddie and friends are temporarily shut down while they battle a non-compete clause being upheld by the company that bought out their now defunct catering business. The premiere wedding planner in LA wants out and thinks if she acts like Maddie is buying her out, then Maddie actually will. All of this culminates in Maddie and co. being invited to a wedding at the Natural History Museum, where she finds a dead body draped over the main dinosaur display. Trying to be nice and lend a helping hand to the deceased’s family, she stumbles on an amazing story involving smuggling and a fabulous treasure, of sorts.
What also makes this a great story is that it was written at a time when a cozy could be a cozy without being so far up its own prudish backside that it doubled as a See Jane Run story for children. Sex scenes are modest, but the author isn’t afraid to use f bombs judiciously and where they’re most effective. This book’s characters read like they could be real people in the real world, and they’re the kind you’d see yourself liking.
It’s nice to see an old favorite can remain a favorite after 20 years.
You know what’s really aggravating about deciding to re-read an old favorite series? Discovering that you don’t actually own a print copy of the first book. That’s been remedied – though I had to settle for a paperback, grumblegrumble, but I couldn’t wait. So I grabbed what I thought was the next book in the series, Fair Game. It isn’t, by the way, the next book. I skipped over one; it was late, I was tired and angry about Cry Wolf, and, oh, who cares, it’s a re-read.
Reading my original review, I didn’t care for this book as much as the others. Yet, when I think back on the series, this is the one I remember best. Re-reading it, I find that I rate it higher than I originally did; 4 stars instead of 3.5. It’s still all kinds of dark and deeply disturbed in plot, but I didn’t find Charles’ inevitable crises, and his reaction to it, quite as irritating as I did that first time. Likely because this time I knew it was a crises that wouldn’t last beyond the book itself.
I’m looking forward to re-read all the books in the series – after my copy of Cry Wolf arrives, that is. There’s a new one coming out next March, and I need to catch up before it arrives.