Series: Belfast McGrath Mystery #3
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on December 5, 2017
Source: the publisher
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Bel McGrath tries her best to keep herself on the straight and narrow but she just has a taste for trouble. This time danger arrives in the form of a newspaper left behind by visitors to Shamrock Manor—and a photograph that jolts Bel out of the present and back into a dark chapter from her past. The person in the photo is Bel’s best friend Amy Mitchell, long gone from Foster’s Landing, at a commune in upstate New York shortly after her disappearance. The picture, and Bel’s burning desire to find out what happened to Amy—and whether she may still be alive—is the catalyst for a story in which old secrets are revealed, little by little…and certain characters are shown to not be as genuine as Bel once thought.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I was intrigued when I received a digital copy of Bel, Book, and Scandal by Maggie McConnon for review. I’ve never read a cozy mystery before (to my knowledge) but I’ve always been curious about them. And I adore the covers with cozies. This particular story is the third installment in the Belfast McGrath Mystery Series but reads as a standalone, so I decided to take the plunge and give it a try, especially since it is set around the holidays. I’m glad I did because I genuinely loved it.
Bel McGrath works alongside her parents and brothers at the local inn that they own, Shamrock Manor. Bel is the Manor’s Chef and she also takes an active role in event planning. The McGrath family is Irish; they are a large, loud group, and I love them. They seem to be the type of family that love one another to pieces but also annoy one another more than anything else – figure this is partly because they live and work in such close proximity.
One day, a photo in the local newspaper catches Bel’s eye, and it flips her world upside down. Apparently one of the women in the picture bears a striking resemblance to Bel’s BFF, who went missing years ago. Bel takes it upon herself to investigate to see if the woman in the picture is indeed her friend. Over the course of the story, this mystery takes Bel all over the area as she seeks out the truth, and it brings forth several twists that I didn’t see coming.
Bel’s missing friend and also her relationship subplot appear to be part of a larger story arc that began in the first book in this series.
This is one of the many books that I’ve picked up since my Dad’s health has been in decline this fall and winter, since he has been in and out of hospitals and in intensive care over the past few months. I was looking for a book that would transport me, hold my attention, and make me smile, and that is exactly what happened with this mystery. The story is not heavy at all; it’s actually funny, particularly Bel’s family and their shenanigans. And Bel’s constant quest for answers kept me on my toes. I loved the convenience of the shorter chapters because they were easy to read between my activities with my own family and caring for my dad; this meant that I was able to stay invested and still multitask without forgetting details that I had just read.
The McGrath family is awesome. Like I said earlier, they’re loud and Irish, and they annoy the mess out of one another. There are a few non-family characters that I adored as well. I really didn’t know who did the things in question, and I did not figure out the mystery surrounding the picture in the newspaper until it was revealed. I was suspicious of pretty much everyone.
This was just a lot of fun for me to read. In fact, I’ve been actively seeking out cozy mysteries since I finished this one a few weeks ago. I really want to go back and read the first two book in this series so I can see all of the parts of this story from the beginning. I realize that this book reads just fine as a standalone, but there are quite a few references to things that have happened prior to the start of this story included in here for the readers that have been faithful the entire time, so I definitely want to go back and figure out what I’ve missed before I move any further with this series. I also want to read more cozies by other authors.