Nina Fleet thought moving into her dream home in the tiny town of Cymbeline, Georgia would make for a quiet life. And then the guy in the penguin costume showed up on her front porch. Soon, she’s caught up in a tug-of-war with the penguin, otherwise known as Harry Westcott, who insists his great-aunt intended to leave the home to him— no matter what the will says. However, Nina forges ahead with her plans of turning the gorgeous house into a B&B. But just as she’s getting her new business off the ground with a group of recently evicted nuns as her first guests, she finds the guy in the penguin costume with a knife in his chest … only it isn’t Harry.
Rarely has a quirky cozy mystery felt so effortless. Author Anna Gerard skews almost into the absurd in the first few pages, with Harry dressed as a penguin accosting Nina. It’s hard to have a serious legal discussion under such circumstances, but Gerard lets her characters do their best, expertly setting the rest of the mystery up for one laugh after another.
Of course, it helps that each of her characters, even in the most extreme of circumstances, feel real. Nina, recently divorced and looking for a fresh start and a new life, glides around, totally enchanted by the town of Cymbeline— and her love of the quirky town is so palpable it’s hard not to become infatuated with it as well. Yet, when cast into a murder plot, she has to navigate the darker, political side of small town life, and in these moments she totally holds her own. Smart, savvy, and with a ton of heart, she holds the book together.
As Nina further acclimates to Cymbeline, several subplots unfold, but Gerard cohesively weaves them together. Most of them revolve around either her dealings with Harry or a group of nuns who have been displaced from their local convent and require the services of Nina’s B&B. They’re a fun, heartwarming distraction to the constant high-alert-suspicion Gerard peppers throughout.
And the mystery itself is well constructed. While most cozies usually toss out several suspects, Gerard, at the peak, genuinely makes it feel as though everyone is a suspect. Motives abound, small town suspicions run rampant, and there are even a couple of tricky, though natural, red herrings. For all the jokes and zany antics, the mystery itself always shines and the final reveal is both surprising and real.
Laden with humor and an expert build-up to the final reveal, Peach Clobbered makes for an excellent start to a new series.
Title: Peach Clobbered
Series: Georgia B&B #1
Author: Anna Gerard
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: July 09, 2019
Classification: Cozy Mystery
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.