After inheriting a rundown estate from her late Aunt Sybil, Abby McCree settles into life in the tiny town of Snowberry Creek. Though really, there’s no time to settle. Aunt Sybil had many obligations, and now Abby’s expected to carry the mantle. Soon she’s taking the reins of the local quilting guild, serving on the city’s Senior Affairs group, and planning garage sales. But then her tenant, Tripp, discover a body buried in her backyard— and it’s Aunt Sybil’s fierce archrival. As all signs point to Sybil as the murderer, Abby becomes focused on finding the real killer and clearing her aunt’s name.
Author Alexis Morgan has woven an irresistible plot. Abby, making a new beginning after a nasty divorce and the death of her aunt, is immediately embroiled in a murder mystery without obvious answers. The murder was obviously personal— the body was wrapped in one of Sybil’s handmade quilts. And the idea of having the body found near Abby’s house leads to some thick tension. There’s a constant need to have the murder solved, not just because Sybil’s name is being sullied, but because Abby is in ever-increasing danger. This builds slowly over the course of the book, leading to a fairly explosive ending. It’s very effective.
Of course, the reason it truly works comes down to the character of Abby McCree. She’s strong, smart, and determined. While some cozies have the main character bumble through the investigation, she carefully plots her actions without putting herself in unnecessary danger. Abby is such a realistic character that she keeps the story grounded, allowing for some zany moments that feel quirky rather than like caricature. Her journey might have quiet moments, but it’s never boring.
It helps that the mystery is intricately woven. There are some solid suspects, a tricky red herring or two, and plenty of twists to leave couch sleuths guessing. While Abby never really considers her aunt a suspect, Morgan provides enough evidence to create doubt for the reader. This little bit of plotting is brilliant enough to make all evidence questionable, even when it appears obvious.
However, beyond the puzzle itself, a great cozy mystery is made or broken with its cast of secondary characters and, fortunately, author Morgan has populated Snowberry Creek with some wonderful denizens. The quilting guild is a particular highlight, especially as the women develop excuses to be near windows with a view of Tripp doing yardwork. Tripp, though sometimes gruff and bossy, works as a romantic interest and foil for Abby. Morgan deserves kudos for writing a complex partner— someone who obviously needs to work on expressing his emotions, but with enough tenderness to get the big moments ‘right’.
Death by Committee has a fantastic heroine, a splash of humor, and a wonderfully crafted mystery. It’s a bit like the many quilts described in its pages— stitched together beautifully.
Title: Death by Committee
Author: Alexis Morgan
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Classification: Cozy Mystery
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.