Welcome! I hope you are enjoying your Saturday on this Memorial Day weekend. Return to Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand will be released on Tuesday, May 30. It is a delightful addition to The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series. Anna and Felty Helmuth are such sweet and humorous characters.
Bearly Departed by Meg Macy is the first book in A Teddy Bear Mystery series. Sasha Silverman is the manager of The Silver Bear Shop and Factory in Silver Hollow, Michigan. The business was started by Sasha’s grandfather, and she took over the running when her father retired. Will Taylor, their salesman and public relations expert, is trying to force changes on the business. He wants to export production overseas to China and oust Uncle Ross who oversees the factory. Will has just returned early from a trip and immediately called a meeting. Will states that he has Alex Silverman’s approval to proceed with his plan’s. Uncle Ross is angry and makes some threats against Will’s life (you can see where there is leading). Later that evening, Sasha and her sister, Maddie are returning home and are almost hit by a car squealing out of their parking lot. They notice Will’s car still in the lot and go inside the factory. Sasha finds Will dead next to the stuffing machine with his mouth full of the material. Detective Mason is assigned the case. He insists on closing the factory and store while he investigates. Uncle Ross quickly becomes the prime suspect in Will’s death. Sasha knows Uncle Ross did not commit the crime. She quickly dons her investigator cap and starts looking for other suspects. Can Sasha find the real killer, clear Uncle Ross and get their shop reopened before it is too late?
I found Bearly Departed to be nicely written, and I liked the premise of a teddy bear shop and factory. It was interesting to read about the different steps to building a bear and it was cute that the shop had a teddy bear hospital. Bearly Departed starts out at a good pace and then slows down considerably (especially since we get detailed descriptions of each person Sasha encounters along with their businesses). I thought there were several cozy mystery clichés in this novel. The cop is rude and impatient, the person who would be killed was foreseeable, and the killer’s identity was unsurprising. Sasha babbles, stumbles, is forgetful, misplaces things, a gossip, impulsive and seems to take her dog with her everywhere. Since Sasha is the manager of a store, I was hoping for a competent, smart, and confident woman as the main character (it would have been a nice change). I give Bearly Departed 3 out of 5 stars. The mystery was slightly complicated, but the identity of the culprit was not. There is a side plot in the book that acts as a red herring. Personally, I felt that the author tried to stuff too much into this first book. There was just one incident after another. I thought that there were too many characters. Readers are introduced to the Silverman family, the workers in the factory, owners of the shops on their street, townspeople, etc. I quickly tired of reading about Rosie’s (Sasha’s dog) bathroom habits. The author added in Sasha’s ex-husband who is (of course) a cheating louse who ends up returning to town. Was this really needed? Information about the case is repeated several times throughout the novel (like filler). I was also curious why when Sasha has a teddy bear picnic (a company event) that they do not use bears from their own shop. They had bears from other designers (Winnie-the-Pooh and Boyd’s Bears for example) and generic bears present. Since people are paying to attend the event, it would be better advertising to have their own bears dressed up for the picnic (and then have them for sale). Bearly Departed was just okay for me. The premise is unique, but otherwise I was underwhelmed. If you prefer to read lighter cozy mysteries (that have more of the cozy element), than check out at Bearly Departed.
I am off to relax and enjoy my day. I am currently reading One Fete in the Grave by Vickie Fee. I hope all of you have a nice, peaceful Saturday. I will be back on Sunday with my review of Amish Brides by Amy Lillard, Jennifer Beckstrand, and Molly Jebber. Take care and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader