Review: Dead-End Detective (Book #1: Piper and Porter Mystery Series) by Amanda Flower

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Darby Piper is in shock. Samantha Porter—her mentor and business partner at Two Girls Detective Agency—has died in a car crash, and it doesn’t look like an accident. In fact, evidence is pointing toward Darby.

Darby had expected to inherit Samantha’s half of the agency, but Samantha had recently changed the will to leave it to Tate Porter, her nephew, who returns to town.

Tate is no P.I. He’s a veteran, a world traveler, and something of a mystery himself. But as he helps Darby delve into secret histories and real estate development plans, he does seem to have a knack for the job. Will the agency have a future…even if Darby can prove her innocence in time?

Source: NetGalley and Hallmark Publishing Rating: 3/5 stars

Darby Porter has her life in order.  She lives where she works, she enjoys her work as a private detective, and she has even resigned herself to the fact, she is her elderly neighbor’s go-to girl for retrieving her scaredy cat from the tallest tree in the yard.  OK, maybe that last bit isn’t exactly what Darby saw for her life, but she’s happy with her life and the people (and felines) in it.

For ten years, Darby and her best friend have run their own small detective agency.  Though they aren’t cracking the huge cases or tracking down killers, they do alright with their workload and clientele.  Though the women don’t often go looking for trouble, sometimes, it finds them.  Unfortunately, the biggest trouble that has ever come knocking comes calling in the form of the death of Darby’s partner.  Reeling from the loss of her partner and best-friend, Darby can’t imagine anything worse coming her way.  Worse does come in the form of her innocence being questioned, the loss of her inheritance, and the reappearance of her partner’s nephew.  Coincidentally, the nephew is now Darby’s new boss.

In the days following Samantha’s death, Darby finds herself looking ever more guilty, at least in the eyes of the police.  Every new clue that surfaces seemingly points straight to Darby and she’s running out of time to solve the crime.  Frustrating her efforts at every turn is the nephew, Tate Porter, a man who has spent the better part of his adult life wandering the world and shouldering little in the way of responsibility.  Tate insists on being involved in the investigation into his aunt’s death and pestering Darby in the process.  While investigating Samantha’s death, Darby . . . and Tate, also tie up some other mysterious loose ends around town.  To Darby’s great displeasure, Tate seems to have a knack for investigating and some of his ideas aren’t half bad. 

The Bottom Line:  I generally liked this book, but feel it needs another book or two to really find its feet as a series.  There’s a great deal going on in this book and I’m not sure it all got dealt with satisfactorily in the end.  With that said, Amanda Flower writes another series I simply adore (Magical Bookshop series), and I know there is a great deal of untapped potential in this current series.  Darby and Tate are both interesting characters, the small town is just right for a load of quirkiness, and the townspeople, especially the little elderly lady, are ripe for entertainment.  I’m interested to see how this series develops and sincerely hope it lives up to its potential.

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