Meet Cate Kinkaid - private eye. Or at least temporary help for her retiring private investigator uncle until she finds a real job. On her first assignment, all she must do is verify the current address of a young woman who is receiving an inheritance - simple right? Until she encounters the Whodunit Book Club and a dead body at the residence. Then things get a bit more complicated in the first of Lorena McCourtney's Cate Kinkaid Files - her mystery novel, Dying to Read.
For all those twenty-somethings who are out of college and can't find jobs in their respective career fields or discover it's not exactly what one wanted to do after all, this book is most appropriate - through a rather self-deprecating comedy, it speaks to the longing to find a job one loves, to the discontent of being stuck and not really going anywhere in life, and to the resulting desperation to do just about anything to finally do something with one's life. Still plowing through that stage of life, I completely understand - while I may not have had as much variety in jobs as Cate, with my degree in International Studies I've still sold produce at a farmer's market for an aunt, weeded my brother's boss' wife's flowerbeds, tutored elementary kids in math and reading, given a couple piano lessons, and even sewed a mattress pad and pillow to line a casket. And trust me, Cate is even worse off than me: her job, her love life, her haircut - nothing has been going right. While the author may not be a twenty-something herself, she definitely must have some in her acquaintance to capture the feel so well.
While a number of the characters are on the eccentric side, making for a delightfully colorful cast, Cate is fairly down-to-earth (aside from taking advice from an overweight, deaf cat; but then who doesn't do something odd now and then?) and easy to connect with. I found myself agreeing with her about characters she liked and wanting to believe the best of them, much like real people - when I like someone, I want them to always do the right thing, to live up to their potential. Sadly, humans are broken creatures in a broken world, so no one can meet our expectations all the time. Fiction mirrors life in that aspect.
Like her wonderful Ivy Malone mysteries, Dying to Read is a quirky cozy mystery that is full of humor. There's no big lesson to be learned in the book, but Cate is obviously a believer who is willing to "do the prayer thing" for the people in her life who don't want to be preached at but need some help. It is a highly enjoyable read for any time one is in the mood for a lighthearted piece of inspirational fiction.
Cate Kincaid Files
1. Dying to Read
2. Dolled Up to Die
3. Death Takes a Ride