Friday, September 12, 2014

Cozy Mystery Review: Innocent in Las Vegas by A.R. Winters

Innocent in Las Vegas by A.R. Winters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Entertaining, fun and a little dangerous.

Innocent in Las Vegas is a book I came across while scanning for freebees on Amazon a while back. The version I have features a cupcake on the cover, just the sort of quirky thing to catch my eye, and having now read the story, a pretty good match to it.

Alright, I'll start off with the basics. Although I haven't read many in this genre, I would have to classify this as a cozy mystery. Tiffany Black is a novice Private Investigator who hopes to one day ditch her job at the casino for a permanent job as PI. The only problem is she doesn't have her license, she's inexperienced, and she has no clue what to do when her first high profile case (one that no one else would take) gets dangerous.

Just like the cover on my edition, this story is quirky, which is a good thing in my opinion. The main character loves pastries, and that works its way into the plot a few times. She's also single, and her parents and grandma are constantly trying to fix her up. This leads to some amusing misunderstandings and drama, but I won't go into details for fear of spoilers. I think these things make Tiffany interesting and somewhat believable.

As for the mystery, I was surprised by the ending, which is a good thing. If I'm able to figure something out before the sleuth, it's not as fun. Now, that's not to say it couldn't be figured out. The clues are there, the suspects are well-portrayed, and Tiffany works the case pretty well for a novice, pastry distractions and all. Still many of her interviews and follow ups read a little dry and down to business, and she has a tendency to drop an interview as soon as the target realizes she's a PI and says they're done, perhaps a side effect of her inexperience.

I like stories featuring tenacious investigators like Colombo or even Psych (yeah TV shows), who dig in and drive their suspects to confession by popping up in annoying and amusing ways. There is a little of that in this story, but just a little. She's mostly winging it and gets lucky here or there with a new lead or surprising bit of gossip that relates to the case.

The general approach and character archetypes are similar to those few other cozy mysteries that I have read. Inexperienced female sleuth, strong-willed and kooky grandmother, parents trying to set her up with a boyfriend, random love interest, and x-factor (in this case cupcake addiction).

Overall, I liked this story, mostly because it made me laugh. Also, the resolution was a surprise, but not out of nowhere. Fans of cozy mysteries may like this story, but it's similar in some ways to other offerings in the genre.

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