Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Coming Home with Lauren Carr's Newest Series - Nikki Bryant Cozy Mystery Series--Killer Deadline and The Wrong Side of Murder!


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Getting an email that one of your favorite authors has a new book out is just like getting an unexpected present! Especially, when there are already two out in the new series! I've been reading Lauren Carr since her first "Mac" book, so I was excited to see that she's taken a small genre turn for a cozy mystery series! One thing I know about any of Carr's books! There will be animals, a well-spun tale with tails that will add plenty of humor as well as one that will keep you guessing to the very end! 
Having once had a boxer dog in our family many years ago, I got a special memory of Duke (Elmo in the book) who we loved dearly... And a pleasant memory from meeting my first Sphinx cat... 
For someone who loves cats, it was still a surprise to meet my first hairless cat...especially, when she snuck into my bed that night and cuddled! I have to say that I fell in love at that point! Her name was Barbara, but the two cats in this series have the delightful names of Ethel and Lucy... Unfortunately, they are not thrilled when Elmo entered their lives! But I found a video that bodes well for the future of the three! LOL

Oh, great! Ashleigh Addison is here. So help me, if she’s Ryan’s date—What are you thinking? You walk through the door and suddenly you’re back in high school!
If anyone had told me five years ago that I’d be human to a canine social media influencer, I would have told them that the world would have to go mad first. Little did I know.” Together, they strolled toward the front door. “Do you get that a lot? People wanting to be photographed with your dog?” Nikki laughed. “Would you believe during the last governor’s race in Nevada, both candidates offered me $500 to have their pictures taken with Elmo and posted online?” She paused with her hand on the door handle. “Apparently, being Elmo’s friend increases your cool factor ten percentage points—according to their campaign managers.” “Did you take the money?” “Of course, I did. I’m no fool.” They stepped through the cut-glass doors into the foyer. Shrieks of delight from the game room located in the finished basement told Nikki where her dog had gone. Debra deserted Nikki to give chase after her granddaughter, who she saw zeroing in on the dessert table in the formal dining room. “Elmo is working the crowd, as always.” Kathleen Bryant declared while descending the staircase from the upper floor to greet her daughter. “Welcome home, darling.” She took Nikki into a warm hug. As they parted, a wicked grin crossed Kathleen’s face. “I hate to say this, but it is slightly pathetic that your dog is more sociable than you are.” “Elmo’s a party-animal. No one is more sociable than he is.” As the words exited Nikki’s mouth, a loud high-pitched screech erupted from the game room. Two hairless creatures, one red and the other gray, scurried up the stairs, down the hallway, and into the parlor. Both wore rhinestone collars to indicate that they were house pets. The curious boxer dog was in pursuit. Unable to gain traction on the shiny hardwood floors, his giant paws slipped and slid under him. Nikki chased after him. The cats jumped onto a loveseat and arched their backs. If they had hair, it would have been on end. They hissed at the dog. Nikki grabbed Elmo by the collar and lifted him so that his front paws were off the hardwood floor. “Elmo! Stop! They’re not armadillos! They’re cats!” Kathleen gasped. “What would make him think they were armadillos?” “Well…” Nikki flicked her eyes in the direction of the two hairless Sphinx cats. “Have you taken a good look at them?” The two felines growled at Elmo, who peered at them with intense curiosity. He so wanted to take a closer look at these animals that resembled some he had seen in the desert. “I never,” Nikki’s mother groused. She left the scene before it got too embarrassing. “Elmo, these are the evil stepsisters I’d told you about,” Nikki said. “Meet Lucy and Ethel. The red one is Lucy. The gray one is her sidekick.” His eyes wide, Elmo regarded the two creatures. He licked his stubby snout and looked back at her. “I know they don’t look like it, but they’re cats.” Elmo got his nose as close as he dared to take a sniff at Lucy, who swiped at him with her needle-like claws. With a snort and a shake of his head, he backed up. “Didn’t I warn you? Don’t turn your back on them.”

Starting the first in a series is always fun, but especially with Lauren Carr... For this series, Carr had picked out pets who are not well known, at least in books... Nikki Bryant is coming back to her home town to take over the family's television station, which has been run by her mother, after her father had been murdered. Yes, his murder had never been solved, so Nikki is hoping to look at this cold case as soon as possible.

Her mother had remarried and was now running a beautiful bed and breakfast with her husband, who happens to be the father of Nikki's first love... Yes! if you're thinking...Oh Boy!... you're right! For Nikki has never forgotten him and now, given this marriage, she had become her first love's...step-sister! Geesh!
Seriously, you can imagine what will be happening in this book as Nikki struggles with her personal, and totally unwanted set of circumstances she is now facing. And I, and you, I know, will be loving every word that is thrown back and forth between the two, especially since he is now head of the crime lab for the police! And they'll be working together.

Nikki is now a well-known investigative journalist and has won many awards for her work in helping to solve cases. So, while proud of her own background, she must now face all of those who were frenemies while in school years ago... One of which is now a homicide cop! Dialogue is fantastic as personalities flare and lower as Nikki moves to take over the reigns of a news oriented station.

Then when she finds out that two women, who were not very good as news anchors even when she was still around, are still there, and in prime times, she sees a real problem... Why weren't they fired long ago? Surely something had prevented it? Or was she missing something? One of those two actually became a rival years ago when she went after, Ryan, Nikki's boyfriend! And, of course, she, Ashleigh, was the one who was murdered! Leaving Nikki having her past thrown back at her...

“Come on, dear,” Conner urged his wife. “Have your picture taken with Elmo.” “I’m not posing with any dog,” Ashleigh said. “Especially an ugly one. His face looks like he rear-ended the back of a truck.” 
“At least he has a fan base,” Conner said. Ashleigh’s eyes grew wide. “Uh, oh. This isn’t going to be pretty,” Julie warned Nikki. Gripped with fear of the impending scene, the party guests scattered. Ryan held out his arm to ease Nikki back. Sensing a change in the atmosphere, Elmo stood in front of Nikki while facing Ashleigh.
 “And you think I don’t?” Ashleigh asked in a low tone. “Used to. Not so much anymore,” Conner said. Ashleigh waved her hand. “Did you see the crowd that turned out this past July for Summer Fest? Hundreds turned out.” 
“They turned out for the local pop singer whose song had made the top-40,” Conner said. “They didn’t come for you. The truth of the matter, Ash, is this. Beauty fades. Brains and talent are forever.” He gestured at Nikki. “Nikki is a perfect example. What she lacks in looks, she’s made up for with brains and talent. Her brains will take care of her long after her breasts and butt droop. You, Ashleigh, your beauty got you to the anchor desk, but where are you going to go from there? You’re a has-been. A dog with a pushed-in face has a bigger following than you.” 
Ashleigh looked around at the guests staring at her. She responded by slapping Conner across the face. “I’m not a brainless twit!” She spun around. “You just wait. All of you! You just wait. Monday evening, six o’clock news, I’m going to break a story that is going to have every news journalist across the country talking.” She gestured at Nikki. “Even the award-winning Nikki Bryant will be in awe.” She whirled around to eye all of them before elbowing her way out the door and into the darkness. “That was weird,” Nikki turned to her mother. “What story is she talking about breaking?” “I have no idea,” Kathleen said while opening the back door for Lucy and Ethel to scurry out like two over-sized rodents... 

Mr. Trumbull, a tall man with long, lean muscles and a winning smile, stopped at the table where Ryan and Jodi were working. He leaned over to ask a question. With a smile, Jodi gazed up at the teacher while Ryan answered. Nodding approval, Mr. Trumbull moved on. Suzanne said, “Any boy would consider himself lucky to have Jodi lick his wounds and other parts of his body.” “Like he stands a chance with Jodi Gibbons,” Nikki said. “She’s a sophomore. She’s got her driver’s license.” Suzanne leaned toward her and lowered her voice. “My sister Claire waits tables at the diner next to the insurance company where Jodi’s mom works. She found a used condom in the trash can in her bedroom. Jodi laughed in her face when she tried to ground her. I mean, like how can she ground her? Her mom works two jobs. She bartends on the weekends. Jodi can do whatever she wants. Who’s going to stop her?” Her voice trailed off when the principal, accompanied by two sheriff’s deputies, entered the lunchroom. A hush fell over the room. The principal craned his neck until he spied the student he was seeking. Like the other students in the room, Jodi Gibbons looked up in curiosity. The principal hurried to her table and spoke to her in a low tone. She shoved her books into her backpack. Her curiosity piqued; Nikki’s eyes met Ryan’s. Wordlessly, she asked him what was going on. His response was a shrug of his shoulders. One could have heard a pin drop when the principal led Jodi to the sheriff’s deputies, who escorted her out.

After a Prologue which takes readers back to what happened during their high school years, Nikki is now in her new position and accepting an award for another investigative newstory... for excellence in media! Nikki admitted to herself that it was one of the reasons she had decided to take on her new job--the ability to decide what stories would be covered! Plus the fact that her first love was still in town...and single!

And it was in celebration of that award that Nikki and Ryan showed up at a local bar to have a nightcap... and Nikki recognized the woman serving them. Jodi! There was no way that the death of her mother wouldn't come up, so Nikki started talking with her. Jodi admitted that she had been upset mainly because nothing had ever been done to solve the crime--thus she was condemned by public opinion and had to live with both the loss of her mother and...her own reputation. You guessed it. Nikki was soon on the hunt and offered to talk with Jodi to see if they could actually solve the still cold case that had occurred about 20 years ago...

About the same time that her father had been murdered...

I read these books backwards, since I didn't know at the time I started to read that it was the second book. Do yourself a favor if you've haven't read the first one. These two books are so intertwined that I just couldn't wait to have the entire story... You know, how people often say of relationships that "it's complicated?" Well, Carr is famous for having two or more mysteries going on at any given time. That's what makes her stories so fascinating, addictive and totally satisfying!

Family life is fun and somewhat frantic as readers meet Nikki's sister, her mother, her step-father (Ryan's Dad) and Trudy who is the comfort food provider for anybody in town who needs to be...comforted! LOL 

But, most of us, we will watch as Ryan, introduces being more than a step-brother to Nikki... Actually, there's a tease that readers will quickly guess, but Lauren's keeps it playing throughout the two books... Seriously, it is such an easy thing that could occur these days on the internet; but since it remains a secret almost through both books, it's a gem that readers will savor, wondering just when it will end... or moe on to the next stage, we hope! Carr even makes romance different and intriguing...and always, it seems, something new! Where she gets her ideas, I haven't a clue, but she continues to be one of the top writers for me and, believe me, if you haven't already found her books, do check them out! 

But I have to admit, my favorite is still her first series! and so I'm thrilled to be able to say...NEXT is 

Hey Lauren, I'm so happy to be back spending time with you and all of your Words! Love you! Bet you haven't had any other reviewer dedicate a song to you! LOL

God Bless,


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