In Too Steep by Kate Kingsbury

In Too Steep (Misty Bay Tearoom #2) by Kate Kingsbury

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publication date: August 9, 2022

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Publisher's description

It seemed like a simple case: the murder of Lewis Trenton, a beachcomber who lived alone in a cabin in the Oregon hills. But the newspaper article piques the interest of Vivian Wainwright, owner of the British-style Misty Bay Tearoom. The photo accompanying the article shows Lewis’s cluttered living room, and on the shelf is a replica of Big Ben. Vivian is sure she sold the clock a week before in her shop. Who could have given the replica to Lewis?

Unable to keep from doing a bit of sleuthing, Vivian hunts down the replica in a local thrift shop, noticing that the base is missing, rendering it worthless, but just as Vivian is about to throw it in the trash, a sparkle catches her eye. It’s a diamond, hidden away in a crevice in the clock. Vivian takes the diamond to Detective Tony Messina, who identifies it as part of a jewelry heist in Portland a month earlier. Portland police think Lewis was the fence who sold the jewels, and that he was killed after double-crossing the thieves—but Messina doesn’t believe the story.

What was the true motive behind Lewis’s murder? How did he come upon the diamond? And what secrets can the clock tell—before the killer strikes again?

My review

I received a free copy of the ebook from NetGalley. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

The Three Rookies are back at it again in the second book in Kate Kingsbury’s Misty Bay Tearoom cozy mystery series. When a reclusive beachcomber is murdered and the big city cops want to pin a crime on him and wash their hands of the case, Vivian pursues bringing him justice, both in clearing his name and in finding who murdered him. Vivian notices that an item purchased from her tea room is in the dead man’s living room in a photo she sees in the newspaper. She sets out to find out how the model of Big Ben came to be there in an effort to find the man’s friends so he has someone to mourn him and, ultimately, solve the crime of his murder.

Vivian would give me grey hair if she were my mother. She plunges headlong into a lot of sketchy situations in pursuit of answers. Her friend, Hal, is worried about her and repeatedly warns her off her snooping - to no avail, of course. When Hal has a medical issue come up, Vivian starts to realize she truly has feelings for him and love starts to blossom. Jenna and Detective Messina start to pursue their mutual attraction in this book and even Gracie looks like she may find a love interest.

I felt the culprit was pretty obvious from the first moment we met them and I’m not one to spend much time trying to figure out whodunit. I usually like to just let the story unfold. Vivian follows up on a lot of leads and meets a wide array of suspects as she goes. She makes a new friend in one of them through a “mutually shared experience” (I’ll leave it at that). I wish that character would stick around for a while, but the author seems to be setting it up for them to move away from Misty Bay. Felix the dog continues to be more adorable. Gracie and Jenna do join Vivian in the snooping along the way as well, though this book felt far more centered on Vivian. She is the narrator so in many ways it is more focused on her perspective, but she also did most of the snooping on this case as well.

I like to read all the books of a series in order when I can so I did read Book One of the series, In Hot Water, before reading this one for NetGalley. The first book suffered a bit from the world-building clunkiness common to the first book in a series. I find it to be a rare gem when the author gets it really right in the first book so I try to commit to reading at least the first two. This book definitely polished off many of the rough edges and settled into a nice setup for a fun series. I look forward to reading more in the series when they are released. There is no magic and only a brief mention of Jenna’s cat here and there, so it doesn’t check my two favorite cozy mystery boxes, but the camaraderie between Vivian, Jenna, and Gracie make up for it.

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