Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Third Degree by Maggie Barbieri (ARC)

Third Degree (A Murder 101 Mystery)Third Degree (A Murder 101 Mystery)
Author - Maggie Barbieri
Publisher - Minotaur
Publication date - November 23, 2010

On her way to meet her boyfriend’s parents, college professor Alison Bergeron stops by a coffee shop to steel her resolve. Not only is it the first time she’s met NYPD Detective Bobby Crawford’s family, but it’s coming on the heels of a wedding proposal that she has left unanswered. Then as she steps into the shop, a brawl breaks out that ends in the death of Carter Willmott, a merciless and loathed local blogger. The case couldn’t be any simpler, and Alison witnessed the whole thing, but when Wilmott’s car explodes in the aftermath, what looked to be a crime of passion becomes something far more premeditated.

My thoughts ~ 

Last time we visited with Alison, she had been proposed to by her boy…..Crawford (she thinks she’s too old to be calling him her “boyfriend”). Now while she tries to figure out just what she wants for the future she finds herself wondering how she can get out of the pool party she and Bobby are heading to where she will meet his entire family, including his parents, for the first time. She doesn’t swim and she refuses to put on a bathing suit. Both of which seem to be a requirement at this gathering. So she did exactly what I would do if I were in her situation and headed out to get an iced coffee. Life is always better when you have an iced coffee in your hand. She walks over to Beans, Beans and after she ties up Trixie turns to head inside. Instead of going inside, she gets a door to the face (and a pretty little shiner for her troubles) as two men come tumbling out, in the midst of a fist fight. The police arrive, break up the fight and Alison goes inside the coffee house with Greg, the owner, to wait to speak with the police. Carter Willmont (fighter #1, local rich guy and blogger determined to bad mouth everyone and everything) comes back inside, coughing and struggling for breath. Shortly after he comes inside, George Miller (fighter #2 and head of the DPW) comes in and cold-cocks Carter with a hard shot to the head, dropping him to the ground – dead! Well this is certainly one way for Alison to get out of the family meet and greet!

Open and shut case right? Guy gets punched in the head right in front of witnesses, hits the ground and is dead. Absolutely no need for Alison to get involved. Right? But things are not as cut and dry as they seem when the grieving widow shows up at Beans, Beans requesting to see her husbands’ body. After that she demands they turn over his car keys and the next thing you know, everyone hits the ground as the car explodes outside, with the wife holding the remote. Seriously? How many people want to see this man dead??? Alison does her best to stay out of things until Mrs. Miller starts harassing Alison, begging her to “tell the truth” about what she saw. She really didn’t see her husband hit Mr. Willmont. He must have fallen and hit his head on something in the coffeehouse. Mrs. Miller is desperate to get her husband out of jail and will stop at nothing to do so. But since the evidence all points to the blow to the head as the cause of death – off to prison he goes.

Geez, Alison has a lot on her plate these days. She’s got the murder she witnessed, the harassment of the suspects wife, the beginning of the college semester (you have to love those new students), and her BFF Max who thinks nothing of cutting the screen in Alison’s kitchen to let herself in whenever she wants. Not done yet. She’s got a new roommate named Queen, a Hooters waitress who doubles as a private eye for Max’s new TV show, all while taking college classes. Then there is the missed period and nausea – hmm…wonder what that’s all about? Unfortunately there is something mysterious going on with her other BFF Kevin – but I’ll let Alison tell you about that. FINALLY – there is the BIG question. Yes or No? Does she marry her boy…..Crawford or not? Only Alison can figure that out for herself. But first – she may or may not have a murder to solve!?!?! Filled with humor, wit, page turning suspense, and tons of emotion, Third Degree is Maggie Barbieri at her best! Just don’t give me the Third Degree, because my lips are sealed!

FTC Full Disclosure ~ The publisher sent me this book in the hopes that I would review it.