Dead to Begin With (A Country Gift Shop Cozy Mystery series, Book 1) - Vivian Conroy

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3.5 stars

A good start to a new series, and while it started off slow, I'm glad I stuck with it. Once the story got going, it was hard to put down and by the time I wound my way up to the exciting ending, I was hooked. The plot blended an old disappearance with a new murder, and the many plot twists kept me on my toes, there were so many suspects that were more suspicious than the actual culprit. I admit, I didn't know who the killer was until a few pages before Vicky figured it all out, but the clues were all there. Well done!

The cute setting of Glen Cove sounds like the sort of quaint New England small town familiar to anyone who has ever watched Murder, She Wrote. In fact, I kept waiting for Jessica Fletcher to ride down the street on her bike! The colorful cast of characters added a lot of charm to the story, especially Cash. I thought his character evolved the most during the story, and that gave him more dimension than the other characters.

I have say, the one thing that brought down my enjoyment of the book was Vicky's mom, Claire. The plot and the characters added enough drama to keep the book interesting without the unnecessary distraction of a harping mother. She just didn't add any value to the story for me.

Overall, Dead to Begin With is a charming, entertaining and absorbing cozy mystery and a great start to a new series. I'll definitely keep this on my list of series to watch, and I recommend it for cozy mystery fans, who will find a lot to like.