Monday, August 8, 2016

Cracked to Death - Cozy Mystery Blog Tour Review + Giveaway

Cracked to Death (A Webb's Glass Shop Mystery #3) by Cheryl Hollon
Rating:  Good
Source: Blog Tour

Description:  When a treasure hunt leads to deadly plunder, it's up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb and her trusty investigative posse to map out the true motives of a killer...
It's the dog days of summer in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Webb's Glass Shop proprietor Savannah Webb has an eco-friendly plan to help locals escape the heat - a recyclable bottle-crafting workshop taught by reticent store manager Amanda Blake,  Turns out, the class is a bigger smash than expected, thanks in part to a pair of staggeringly old bottles brought in by snorkeler Martin Lane. Linked to a storied pirate shipwreck, the relics definitely pique Savannah's interest.  But intrigue turns to shock when Martin's lifeless body washes ashore the next morning, another glass artifact tucked in his dive bag.  With cell phone records connecting Amanda to the drowning, Savannah must voyage through unchartered territory to exonerate her colleague and capture the twisted criminal behind Martin's death.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  A bunch of reasons!  I love a cozy mystery, I love the idea of the glass shop and the crafting, and St. Petersburg is a place I'm really familiar with and I always enjoy books set in locations I know.

My Impression:  
For starters this is the 3rd book in the series but as usual with cozy mysteries I had no trouble jumping in here.  The one relationship I couldn't quite figure out was cleared up by page 10 and what I needed to know from previous books was quickly and concisely relayed in a way that didn't pull me out of the story.

I really love the group feel in a mystery and that aspect is really well done in Cracked to Death.  We have: Savannah, primary investigator and owner of the glass shop, Edward, her maybe boyfriend and pub owner, Amanda, the quirky and upbeat (usually) new office manager, and Jacob, Savannah's assistant who is incredibly detail oriented and thorough.  When a workshop attendee ends up dead they band together and use their skills to try and figure out what happened.  This time, however, Savannah has the added authority of being a consultant with the St. Petersburg police department because a rare bottle was found with the body and seems to be critical to the case.  I liked all the characters and I really appreciated how Hollon really brought readers inside Savannah's head so we could see her thoughts and understand her a bit better - especially in regards to Edward.  While I'm sometimes annoyed by characters who come off as quirky and high strung like Amanda because frequently they seem like more trouble than they're worth this wasn't the case with Amanda.  While she is super high strung she's also intelligent, creative and likable.  I didn't find it too hard to see why Savannah put up with her - even when she was at her most irritating.  Jacob is another interesting element.  Right at the beginning it's mentioned that he has Asperger's and it does affect how he behaves.  In particular, he struggles with adapting to change and unexpected and emotional situations whether good or bad but I never felt like he was considered a "special needs" character or that the condition was being used as a gimmick.  Rather that was just one other aspect of his personality just like his attention to detail and his ability to focus and work out complicated puzzles.

I found the mystery interesting and liked the slow unraveling.  It's not that the pace or the mystery itself is slow but more that as readers we start out knowing almost nothing so there's so much to learn and figure out.  Just what are the bottles that seem so important and where did Martin find them?  Who is Martin?  Who did he know?  Did he have enemies?  I loved discovering all the little details and figuring out just what was going on.

I did think Savannah abused her consultant status in a way that wouldn't have her consulting ever again in real life police department but I didn't have too much of a problem suspending belief on that one.  And I liked that at least she had some reason to be investigating (well that and the police focus on her friend) and wasn't just a nosy individual expecting strangers to confess all which is one of my personal pet peeves.  So while her use of her consultant title did raise an eyebrow a time or two it didn't affect my enjoyment in the book.

While I enjoyed the characters and the mystery on it's own a special treat for me was the setting of St. Petersburg, Florida.  My dad is from there and his mother always told very fond stories of the town and how much she loved it.  Then when the Tornado was a baby, J ended up working there for about 2 months and the kids and I went down to stay with him for a little while.  We had the best time exploring and I loved discovering St. Petersburg and Tampa for myself.  But my very favorite spot was Haslam's Book Store.  The kids and I spent hours and hours there one day and ended up leaving with armloads of books.  I was thrilled to be able to revisit that special bookstore in this book!  Hollon has me longing to go back for a return visit!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Absolutely!  I have had the first book in the series sitting on my bookshelf for far too long.  I'm looking forward to picking it up soon!

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes!  If you enjoy cozy mysteries I think you'd enjoy this one.


  1. I love when books are set somewhere I know well. Unfortunately very few books are set in Syracuse, which is where I know the best. This book sounds fun. It really sounds like there is a great group of characters.

  2. Thanks for participating in this tour. I'm grateful. As a near-native, I love bringing St. Petersburg to life in my books.

  3. This looks fun. Love the cover, the premise and the St. Petersburg location is a nice touch. This looks like a great cozy, and I like that she has at least a semi- official "consultant" role as the amateur investigator does all the work thing does get a bit unrealistic at times. :)

  4. What fun to have a personal relationship to the locale of the story! And the regular characters sound interesting, especially the young man who may have Asperger's. The plot also sounds like it hangs together well. I will keep an eye out for this series!

  5. See? I knew I should have got for a cozy this month with my TBR poll after all . . . That's what I get for second guessing myself. This does sound good.

  6. I still have the first one to read. This series sounds really good.

  7. This sounds like a book I would enjoy reading. I like the Florida setting.

  8. I have all three in this series and I really need to read them! :)

  9. I like the sound of the characters and the way you describe them. Amanda is my pick!

  10. Such fun! Reading a book with a known setting and good memories! Love your giveaway entry thingy. Great idea.

  11. I am always a fan of books set in places I know as well. I think I feel more of a connection. Glad you enjoyed this one and were able to jump in with no problems. Great review!