Brian will be reading from his latest work and wants to know someone will clap for him when he's done. When Emma balks at the notion that people wouldn't, he tells her the room will be filled with people he's invited--most of whom will likely want him dead by the time he's done reading. Assuming he's joking, she laughs. But when Brian steps up to the mic and clears his throat to speak, he promptly drops dead. Emma is one of the last people to see him alive, and so she becomes an immediate suspect. Now she'll have to cozy up to a killer to save her skin and her new business.
A Plus One for Murder by Laura Bradford has Emma Westlake starting A Friend for Hire after her travel agency dies a slow death. She is hired by Brian Hill to be in the audience when he reads a poem at open mic night and clap when he is done. Emma learns that Brian is not well-liked in the community, and he invited four of his nemeses to the event. Brian tells Emma that each one of them would like him dead. Brian is in the middle of reading his poem when he collapses on the stage. Brian will not be able to finish reading his poem because he is dead. Emma is shocked and quickly heads home. When Brian’s death is ruled a homicide, Emma is convinced to look into his death by two of her clients. Can Emma along with Dottie and Stephanie find Brian’s killer?
A Plus One for Murder by Laura Bradford is the debut of A Friend for Hire Mystery series. I thought the premise of being a friend for hire was unique for cozy mysteries. Emma Westlake is an okay character. I thought that Dottie and Stephanie overshadowed her along with her dog, Scout. I also thought she was underdeveloped. Details on Emma’s life were lacking. Personally, I thought Dottie would have been better as the protagonist. She is a hoot. Dottie is an intelligent woman who has clever ideas. She loves to read cozy mysteries which is why she encourages Emma to do a little sleuthing (with her guidance, of course). Scout is a cutie. He is a sweet and smart dog. The mystery was straightforward. It was very obvious what killed the victim. I was surprised at Emma for leaving the scene without speaking to police and for withholding pertinent information. There are four suspects in the murder. Emma reluctantly investigates at the urging of Stephanie and Dottie. Emma’s two sidekicks end up being the predominant sleuths. Emma eventually jumps on the sleuthing bandwagon and becomes involved in searching for Brian’s killer. There is misdirection to keep readers distracted and good clues to help with solving the crime. I did not find it challenging to identify the guilty party. There are two potential love interests for Emma. I am hoping that Emma will pick one, so we do not end up with a lingering love triangle. With a little fine tuning to Emma’s characters, A Friend for Hire Mystery series will delight cozy mystery readers. There is a preview of A Perilous Pal at the end of the book. A Plus One for Murder is a cute cozy mystery with a cuddly canine, a departed poet, a dashing detective, creative clients, shady suspects, a greenhouse overflowing with flowers, and an unenthusiastic sleuth.
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