Murder in a Two-Seater by Billie Thomas

(Chloe Carstairs, #2)

A cheating wife in a classic car drives someone to murder.

Interior decorators turned amateur investigators, Chloe and Amanda Carstairs have spent the summer transforming their client’s creepy old castle into a luxury hotel. But before the first guest checks in, the owner’s wife checks out – with the help of a bullet to the head.

When Chloe’s dad is accused of the crime, there’s no time for the ladies to drown their sorrows in the hotel’s mini bar. Instead, they have to contend with a sneaky blackmailer, an unsolved murder from the past, and a cunning killer with nothing to lose.

The second Chloe Carstairs Mystery is filled with the same clever twists and hilarious mother-daughter relationship that made Murder on the First Day of Christmas such a fun, fast-paced read for an appreciative readership. The mystery will keep you guessing, but as any good decorator will tell you, even a beautiful setting can’t hide the ugly truth.

I loved the first in the series, Murder on the First Day of Christmas, and I'm happy to say the second was as enjoyable.

It focuses on the unique bond between mother and daughter Chloe and Amanda, but while the first was establishing strong ties over common bonds, the second delved further into them working together but apart. Chloe has to do her own digging and consults with her mother rather than as many outright adventures together. This neither added nor detracted from the book's enjoyment potential, but it did change the focus on the dynamics of their relationship.

Delightful not only because of the charm, it works as an intricately woven mystery with many layers. Through subtle and major surprises you don't sniff out in warning, to false leads and convincing motivations that are about more than just murder, this is a mystery that wines and dines your brain as much as it does your tickle bone. It's filled with genuinely amusing moments that seem come naturally from the author, making the characters a delight to read about.

There are some game changers in Chloe's personal relationships, which were interesting but set in the back burner considering all that was going on. It's a pure set mystery with a tiny romance possibility on the side, but nothing that overtakes the story. The shining stars are still the mains, Chloe and Amanda, but you couldn't have another excellent book with the amusing Tony Trianos, the joking father with his car obsession, and of course the rivals.

The setting was another thing which rocked. An old mansion saddled with a ghost legend while all suspects and victims were closed in together for much of the book. Besides the fun in solving a mystery through room-rummaging, eavesdropping and general mingling, there were the humorous situations that arose with them squished together, namely in the form of Honey - Bunny's daughter (yes, really!)

It was unrealistic they relied too much on sense of smell - seriously, not many people keep noticing deep scents when passing people in panicked situations. There was also a small plot hole or two, but nothing big. Overall it was a clever whodunnit with many leads and not a predictable reveal for the villain.

I will definitely check out more of the series if more come - it's a top favorite cozy series, a pure delight to read.

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