Every once in a while you just need a novella to fill a quiet afternoon, to escape a boring evening. Pains and Penalties (A Geek and Things Cozy Mystery Novella #1) is a terrific choice for a short but complete read. A Projected hour and a half read I found that I didn’t have the feeling that the mystery was rushed or the main character under written. Sarah Biglow is quite brilliant in that she introduces her small town but doesn’t follow through and fully describe and deal with each and every individual in the area. Instead she focuses on a moderate assortment of pertinent (and perhaps a few red herring) characters and runs with it.
The main focus is on Kalina Greystone who is newly returned to her home town Ellesworth, Ma after her father’s passing and her inheriting of his comic shop. This is run with the assistance of her teenage nephew AJ. Included in the comic book shop are multiple references to games and comics, even super heroes that are current and memorable (Daredevil, Cards Against Humanity), there was even one for me to make not to check into later – Zombie Dice.
Right in the beginning we are introduced to ex high school sweetheart and current Detective Christian Harper. When Mrs. Davies known for her baking and wining of fair prizes is murdered at the annual Solstice Fair, Kalina can’t stop herself from getting involved. After all her nephew was on hand while the woman died and as hard as it was to return to her hometown from the city it IS her home now and for Kalina that means she can’t help but dig deeper and try and help.
I was stumped almost to the end as to who committed the murders. The timeline is actually quite reasonable over the span of a couple days. I did not feel this story was rushed at all. I would not call this a romance as well as a mystery, definitely murder and cozy but the romance is not really developed nor really focused on in this book.
I am definitely open to reading book #2… if you are looking for a fun and quirky setting with lost of current and contemporary references to all things “geeky” Pains and Penalties might just be the book for you!