The Rocky Road to Ruin by Meri Allen is the debut of An Ice Cream Shop Mystery series. Meri Allen is a descriptive writer. She provided detailed word images of the town, the characters, Buzzy’s farm, and, most importantly, the ice cream. Riley Rhodes is a unique character for cozy mysteries with her occupation. I like that the author took the time to establish Riley and the town. I did feel that we are introduced to a few too many characters in this first book. There are just too many to keep straight (neighbors, relatives, employees, reporters, visitors). We also get to meet Sprinkles, Buzzy’s prima donna cat, and Rocky, a rescue cat. I enjoyed reading about their attitudes and antics. I can tell the author has been around cats. The mystery is multifaceted with multiple suspects and misdirection. There are clues to help readers solve the whodunit before the reveal (if you are an avid cozy mystery reader, you will have no problem unraveling this whodunit). There are delicious descriptions of ice cream that will have you running out for a cold creamy confection. I did feel the pacing was a little slow with the detailed descriptions and the number of characters. I also wanted a little more cozy. I was hoping for a cozy small town with the story focusing around the ice cream shop. I think the author is trying to give us something different. Some things worked and others did not. An example is Riley being a CIA librarian, travel food blogger, and secret spy. I would have been happy with travel food blogger because the CIA aspect seems out of place (except for Riley’s attention to detail). The Rocky Road to Ruin is a good start and I do wish to read the next installment in An Ice Cream Shop Mystery series. The Rocky Road to Ruin is a sweet treat with cat capers, land wrangling, prying reporters, creamy confections, sunflower festival fun, a curious cowboy, and a mysterious murder.
The Avid Reader
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