Feel-Good Reads: The Cozy Mystery
Review by Amy Atzert, collection development librarian

An amateur sleuth — check. A small town — check. A series of clues — check. A perpetrator pushed to their limits — check. “A Side Of Murder: A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery” by Amy Pershing ticks all the boxes for common components of the cozy mystery. 

It follows the theme of an average person righting a wrong with a whole cast of supporting characters helping them. Our amatuer sleuth, while not a professional crime solver themselves, is connected to one in the story, normally one of those supporting characters. How else do you think they get all of their great clues? 

Samantha Barnes is an up-and-coming chef from New York, who comes back to Cape Cod when she inherits her Aunt’s cottage. Her reporter parents left the Cape for Florida, and the newspaper is now run by her old friend Krista. Krista offers Sam a job writing restaurant reviews while she is in town. Sam doesn’t plan to stay, but takes the gig just until she can decide what she is going to do with the house and the rest of her life. She got into a bit of hot water back in New York so needs to decide where her life is taking her. 

Sam heads to the Bayview Grill to write her first review, but before the evening is over some chance coincidences lead her to find a dead body in the pond behind the restaurant. What freaks her out even more than finding a body in the first place, is that she knows who it is. She used to work with Estelle years ago.

Something about the scene smells a bit fishy to her and she decides to do some sleuthing of her own. Afterall, she is a newspaper journalist now, isn’t she? She has the skills, intelligence, and perseverance to figure out what really happened to Estelle and she won’t be doing the work alone. She gets help from her old crush and new Harbor Master Jason Captiva; her next door neighbor and witty librarian Heleine; as well as old friend and now boss Krista. 

This is a fast-paced, fun, and funny read. There are many twists and turns throughout the story you might guess whodunit, but then again you might not. A little light snark plus a rekindled romance keeps the reader engaged. I really enjoyed this one.