Monday, August 6, 2012

A Relaxing Fun Break With Sandra Balzo's Dead Ends!

"AnnaLise read the menu: Corn Flakes Crunchy Baked Chicken,
Bennett's Chili Sauce: Grape Nut Pudding...placed between a flyer
advertising next month's annual Woolly Worm Festival in nearby
Banner Elk and a second circular, this time for Beary Scary
Halloween on neighboring Grandfather Mountain...
"AnnaLise Griggs, you can't tell me you've forgotten the Woolly
Worm Festival. You haven't been away that long."
"Please," AnnaLise said, "one does not forget the whole county
coming out to watch Woolly Caterpillars race up strings and then
using the color pattern of the winner's bristles to predict the coming
winter's weather.
"Hey there, AnnieLeez." The voice came presumably from the
kitchen and undeniably from Mama..."Don't you go making fun
of our Woolly Worms. They pump a whole lot of dollars into the
county's coffins..."
AnnaLise bit her tongue to avoid correcting that to coffers..."
There was a wistful tone to Daisy's voice, tinged with a hint of
fear. Both mother and daughter knew that if AnnaLise stayed
beyond the end of September it would be because of Daisy's
spells. And AnnaLise didn't think either of them really wanted
that, Woolly Worms or not..."

Dead Ends

By Sandra Balzo

Some authors spoil me...I know when I receive one of their books that I can get a cup of tea, sit back, and prepare to enjoy and have fun with a cozy mystery. Sandra Balzo is one of those authors... And, as usual, I read throughout the day into the evening to finish Dead Ends that day! As soon as I started to read, I remembered the characters from the first book, Running on Empty, so if you haven't started to read this series yet, you might want to click to my review later and maybe start at the beginning too! You may just become a fan too!

AnnaLise is still visiting her hometown, living with her mother after she had received a call about her mother's health. Leaving her job in Wisconsin as a journalist, she spends most of her time helping her mother and Mama Phyllis who owned the main street restaurant named after her mother, Mama Philomena's. Phyllis had never learned the recipes that had made her mother's food so famous. Instead, she started using the easy recipes off of convenience food boxes and cans, making her own reputation in the small town!

Her mother had had some problems with memory, so AnnaLise had started talking to several of her friends about having a web site and blog for the town, the blog being one on which town members, including her mother, could write about the past and present and thus begin keeping the town's history...of course that didn't really start until after the murder...

And AnnaLise was right in the middle this time!

Because her former lover had come to town with his wife and daughter! And his wife was the one murdered--her yellow Porsche had gone over a mountain-side and they later found that a shot from a gun had caused the accident...

But the only way they had discovered her car was because AnnaLise and her mother had also almost gone over! They had been on their way up the mountain when Daisy had directed AnnaLise onto a short cut. It was fun seeing the scared AnnaLise timidly driving around her former hometown while her mother had been routinely driving for many years... This time, though, they were both scared since their car had stopped just inches away from the hillside. Only when they were working with their rescuers was the yellow of the other car noticed...and on investigating that accident...they discovered still another car further down!

AnnaLise had been shocked when her former lover, Ben and his family had walked in. There was no choice other than to say hi, so she had gone to greet them, only to feel that his wife had known about them when during the brief conversation she had said that she didn't share... Ben was a district attorney back in Wisconsin and she had broken off their relationship several months ago. But now, the whole family was not only here, but Ben had enrolled his daughter in the local university! And she had even met a local boy, Josh, on an earlier brief visit and was now dating him! What was going on?!!

In small town USA, the local news moves faster than any newspaper, telephone, or Internet and everybody was involved in discussions as to what happened, who was responsible--and Ben wasn't making it any easier as he proclaimed that "somebody" would pay for his wife's murder. AnnaLise, though, wasn't quite sure that he wasn't the murderer, especially when she found her last note where she had told him the reasons why she was breaking up with him. But now his wife was dead...

And then his daughter was murdered! She was...

But then a shot came through the front window of their home and her mother had barely missed being killed!

That was the three people who she had named when she broken up with Ben! Was he eliminating her reasons so she would go back to him?

Fortunately, AnnaLise had always been good friends with the town sheriff and they had even dated until  he had shared the secret that he was gay. Now she was having a hard time because she had never shared her affair with him and she finally had told him because Ben had implied that it might have been her who had killed his wife! And why was Ben accusing her?!! Only her friend, Joy, had known earlier, but now she worried that it would get back to her mother and Mama...and probably the whole town! Ahhh, she was fast remembering why she had left in the first place...

Surely you don't think the mystery is going to be solved that easily? NOT! Visit the little town of Sutherton where Wooly Worms give the locals a reason for a festival...and find out about all the other fun things happening--in between the murders... I didn't see the end coming, especially all that happened! So if you like to be stumped and enjoy a cozy whodunit...start reading Sandra Balzo. I know you'll have fun, 'cause it's highly recommended! Enjoy!


 . . turned to mystery writing after twenty years in corporate public relations, event management and publicity. Triple Shot, her seventh Maggy Thorsen coffeehouse mystery, was just released, and Sandy's second series, Main Street Mysteries, debuted in April with Running on Empty. The books, set in the popular vacation destination of North Carolina's High Country, will alternate with the Maggy Thorsen mysteries. Heaven's Fire, about a fireworks show gone badly wrong, was released directly to Kindle with excellent reviews.

Balzo's novels have been nominated for both the Anthony and Macavity awards and received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. In addition to her books about coffee-maven Maggy Thorsen and displaced journalist AnnaLise Griggs, Balzo writes short stories, two of which have been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, winning the Macavity, Derringer and Robert L. Fish awards. Those psychological thrillers, along with a third original story, are available on Kindle in The Grass is Always Greener and Other Stories.

Balzo has handled publicity for three Bouchercons (World Mystery Conventions), as well as the International Association of Crime Writers, and has served as a national board member of Mystery Writers of America. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, she currently splits her time between Florida and the High Country of North Carolina.

And roots for the Green Bay Packers.

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