Title: Death and the Brewmaster’s Widow (Auction Block 2)
Author: Loretta Ross
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: 2016
Death Bogart is slowly getting his life back together following his return from Afghanistan. His work as a private investigator/bounty hunter has given him some confidence and his relationship with auctioneer Wren Morgan has given him purpose and direction. One element of his life, however, still needs closure. While he was missing in action and presumed dead overseas, his younger brother Randy, a firefighter, died in an arson fire. Death’s ex-wife acted on his behalf and had Randy’s remains cremated. Death returns to St. Louis, Missouri, to clean out Randy’s home and say a final good-bye to his brother. While sorting through his personal items, Death discovers Randy’s badge had broken off and was left at the fire station when he went to the fatal fire. However, the coroner found another badge on Randy’s body, but with a different number.
Death is desperate to discover what the badge confusion means and he and Wren begin to trace back through the final days of Randy’s life. From the fire station to the newspaper office to the mysterious Cherokee Caves that were once used by nineteenth-century beer barons, Wren and Death search for answers. Some of their questions are met with confusion, some with road-blocks, and some with secret jealousy. Death is still recovering from PTSD and a breathing disability but there is something far more sinister threatening his life.
I discovered this series with the first book Death and the Red-Headed Woman about a year ago. I was drawn to it because the title was quirky and ended up really enjoying the book. I noted the author and promptly forgot about it. A year later, my very organized “books going to be released” list (don’t judge) indicated that the author had a second book coming out in the series. I picked it up and quickly remembered why I enjoyed the series so much the first time. The characters are engaging, the story is intelligent, and there is a lot of fun and humor.
“Death” in the title at first seems a bit cheesy until it is explained that Death is a family name, much like Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey of mystery author Dorothy Sayers fame. It is pronounced to rhyme with “teeth,” but quite honestly, I couldn’t convince my brain to read it that way! Just like his namesake, Death Bogart is intelligent and resourceful. His girlfriend Wren Morgan seems to be more of the protagonist in the first book but the balance between the characters is very well-done. The story is so much more than a cozy mystery and the well-developed plot is fascinating to watch unfold. I really, really enjoyed the book.
Wren is an auctioneer, which I think provides a diverse and eclectic backdrop for mysteries. Loretta Ross blends historical and anecdotal information about auction items as they are woven into the story. I think there is a lot of promise for the future of the series and I am looking forward to reading the next installment.
Who might like this book:
Definitely give this series a chance. I admit that I wasn’t sure when I first picked it up, but I am so glad that I did. You will enjoy the well-constructed plot with enjoyable and relatable characters. Make sure to start with the first book Death and Red-Headed Woman.