IT manager Mia Connors is up to her tortoiseshell glasses in technical drama when a glitch in the Horseshoe Falls email system disrupts security and sends errant messages to residents of the gated community. The snafu’s timing couldn’t be worse—Renaissance Faire season is in full swing and Mia’s family’s business relies on her presence.
Mia doesn’t have time to hunt down a computer hacker. Her best friend has disappeared, and she finds another of her friends murdered—in her office. When the hunky new head of Horseshoe Falls security identifies Mia as the prime suspect, her anxiety level registers on the Richter scale.
Eager to clear her name, Mia moves into action to locate her missing buddy and find out who killed their friend. But her quick tongue gets her into trouble with more than the new head of security. When Mia begins receiving threats, the killer makes it clear that he’s closer than she’d ever imagined.
Recently, I was perusing the books on my TBR list, looking for something a little different when I came across this book from Carina Press. I put out the inquiry online and had some great feedback from the Twitter-sphere. I’ve also had some great online conversations with some of the Carina folk in particular, and I always take their recommendations to heart, so I went into this one with high expectations – and was justly rewarded for my efforts with a modern-day geek girl cozy mystery with a twist >happy sigh<.
This is a super fun read, people. Mia is an unabashed geek – smart, IT savvy, cosplay-wearing, Comic-Con attending, Renaissance Faire supporting geek and totally proud of all of it. She plays video games (well) and loves her family and friends who are just as loyal and loving to her in return. What I loved best about Mia, however, was that she was fully aware of how quirky she could appear to others, and how she wasn’t as socially adept as her twin sister. That she not only knew how eccentric she could be at times AND accepted it AND was comfortable enough to mention it to people at times spoke volumes about her as a character. I loved that she didn’t apologize for herself in any way. How rare is that?
The mystery rolls along at a satisfying and steady pace; someone is attempting to cause mayhem in the gated community where Mia works, with a darker purpose lurking underneath. Jake Archer is the enigmatic new head of security who is hiding secrets of his own, and while there’s a hint of a triangle building with Mia, Jake and Jake’s brother Dan, that quickly resolves itself and Mia and Jake are left to bicker and collaborate in equal measures as the tension between them grows with each chapter.
If you may be on the fence because of the mystery/romance angle, know that the mystery takes centre stage, and the romance is more of a slow burn that looks like it will continue over the first three books in the series. This is a strong entry into a new series, and one well woth picking up, especially for those mystery fans who might be looking for something a little different in a cozy.
A Geek Girl’s Guide to Murder is published by Carina Press. A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ISBN: 9781459290082 and available for purchase from Amazon and Kobo.
It’s been three months since Jake Archer rolled into town, accused Mia Connors of murder and stole her heart. She hasn’t heard from him since. So when a man collapses at the fall Renaissance Faire, she’s surprised to see the US marshal arrive on scene. And shocked when he points the finger at her—again. Mia would sooner be able to resurrect the poor fellow than poison him.
Jake Archer’s career has been rising fast, but it’s about to come to a crashing halt. The Ren-Faire victim was in protective custody—Jake’s custody—and they were painfully close to nabbing a major crime boss. If Jake doesn’t solve the murder soon, he’ll be fetching donuts instead of protecting his nation. A difficult enough task without the alluring Mia Connors in the way.
Working with Jake to catch the killer might push Mia into crazy-cat-lady territory. But with a murderer on the loose—and Mia’s reputation on the line—they’ll have to work fast to find the killer before the killer finds them.
Book two in the series takes place three months after the resolution of the first mystery, and Jake has been absent from Mia’s life. Mia is helping her family promote her grandmother’s business “Guinevere’s Golden Beauty” at the local Renaissance Faire when a Ren-Faire colleague dies almost at Mia’s feet. Of course, Jake is involved, and wants to know just how much Mia might be involved herself.
First off, Mia remains her wonderful geeky self, and I loved the further interactions with Nate and her family, who obviously love and understand her in equal measures. That’s not to say that Mia hasn’t been completely unaffected by the events in the first book. She’s much more skittish and cautious now, and has moved into the most secure apartment (the penthouse) in the gated community where she works. She double and triple checks to the point of obsession and has delayed finding an assistant for obvious reasons (spoilers!). It takes some measure of intervention from Nate and Jake before she is able to relax enough to start taking chances again, but she’s clearly been affected by the events three months prior, and I appreciate that her character demonstrated that growth.
We learn a lot more about Jake this time out, including more about his family and their own quirky dynamics. Jake had much more of my sympathy this time out, especially since we knew more about his role right up front. The murder mystery felt a little more sinister this time, with various people dying with only few clues to lead the way, but I did like the pacing and the feel of things. There’s some really well-thought-out clues that were woven well into the Ren-Faire setting, and the small town nature of the Faire is exceptionally detailed. I appreciated that this murder wasn’t as clear-cut as it seemed, and that the twists and turns kept coming throughout. One minor point: I kind of wish the publisher had allowed the title reflected the actual poison – A Geek Girl’s Guide to Belladonna would have worked just as well!
Mia’s sister, while beings someone I’d probably want to smack after a short period of time, clearly loves and cares about her sister, and wants her to be happy. Their grandmother is both savvy and hysterical, and I loved her ‘magician’s assistant’ role with Marvin late in the novel even as she tries to sic her lawyers on a nasty television reporter. I liked seeing Mia’s interactions with the family business, as it showed another facet to Mia’s capable nature. She’s an active participant, not just because she’s good with numbers but because she genuinely cares about her Grandmother’s business, and her determined efforts are for her family as much as for the business.
Once again, the romance is on a slow simmer, but things are moving forward with Mia and Jake, and they can finally admit their mutual attraction to each other (something everyone else spots pretty much immediately). These are such fun reads, and I can’t wait to read book three in the series in the fall.
A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic is published by Carina Press and is available for purchase from Amazon and Kobo. ISBN: 9781459290396