Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: Geared for the Grave by Duffy Brown

Geared for the Grave
Author:  Duffy Brown
Series:  Cycle Path Mystery 1
Publisher:  Berkley, December 2, 2014
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780425268940 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher


Mackinac Island is a peaceful summer resort town where everyone coasts through the streets on bicycles. But after someone sends a prominent local on her final ride, it’s up to one resourceful visitor to get things running again…

Hoping to shift her chances of a promotion in her favor, Evie Bloomfield heads to Mackinac Island to assist her boss’s father. Rudy Randolph has broken his leg and operating his bike shop, Rudy’s Rides, is too much to handle by himself. But Evie’s good turn only leads to more trouble…

After Evie’s arrival, wealthy resident Bunny Harrington dies in what looks like a freak bike accident. Upon closer inspection, Bunny’s brakes were tampered with, and now the prime suspect in her murder is also Bunny’s number one enemy: Rudy. So if Evie hopes to stay on her boss’s good side, she’ll need to steer Rudy clear of jail. Now she must quickly solve this mystery so she can put the brakes on the real killer’s plan…

Jennifer's Review

Duffy Brown’s Geared for the Grave is the first book in the new Cycle Path Mystery Series. The series is set on Mackinac Island, a tiny resort town nestled in Michigan’s Lake Huron. The story begins with Evie Bloomfield’s inauspicious arrival on the island for what is really nothing but a glorified baby-sitting job that she is hoping will eventually further her career. Evie has been sent to Mackinac to provide assistance to her boss’s father, Rudy Randolph. Rudy has suffered a broken leg and Evie is tasked with helping him run his failing bicycle shop until he gets back on his feet. After learning that her job will be much harder than she thought due to Rudy’s reluctance to accept her help, Evie quickly stumbles upon the body of a very controversial and very wealthy resident.

I must admit that it took me quite a while to warm up to this book. I found the scrapes that Evie finds herself in a tad unrealistic and some of the minor characters to be a bit cartoonish. With that being said, in the end I did end up becoming engaged with the story and enjoyed seeing how it played out. Throughout the beginning and even middle of the book, Evie is a train wreck, and not an endearing one. She has major hang-ups about a past relationship and issues with her overachieving family back in Chicago. After she stops bumbling her way through everything, she becomes a much more likeable and relatable character, although she does still retain her incredible clumsiness. Rudy is a funny old guy and I enjoyed his character development. There are a plethora of townspeople that help further the plot and add comic relief, but the one I found the most entertaining was Irma. She was very charming in her ineptness and the scene where she inadvertently adds an extra ingredient in her fudge that causes the townspeople to become a little too happy is an absolute gem. The romantic interest in this story comes in the form of Nate Sutter, a ruggedly handsome acting police chief with a bit of a past himself. The chemistry between Evie and Nate starts out very subtle and builds nicely. The unexpected arrival of Evie’s mother and the mystery surrounding the town’s newest residents, a brother and sister with big city mob connections, add many fun moments to the mystery.

The mystery of Bunny Harrington’s death is central to the plot but does often takes a backseat to the shenanigans of Evie and the townsfolk. I wouldn’t say the mystery was formulaic, but there was a bit of predictability to how the mystery plays out. Being a fan of cozy mysteries, I can say that sometimes a more basic mystery is just what I am looking for when I need something quick and uncomplicated to help me unwind after a grueling day. This novel fit that bill for me. After the rough start, the characters did develop well and became interesting. I will be looking forward to seeing where the author takes the next installment in this series.


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