Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abott (2015).
As a teen, Rebecca Anderson was known in her small town of Grand Lake, Ohio as a rebel, never in enough trouble to be put away, but in enough to be suspicious just for hanging around. She’s back now, with a culinary degree and after a failed marriage to a celebrity chef, to run a gourmet popcorn shop in a tourist-friendly part of town, but she finds that earning the respect and trust of those who knew her when—and everyone knew her when—is difficult, if not impossible.
So when her mentor, a popular chocolatier, is found murdered, it’s not long before people are whispering about her possible involvement. The suspicion is preposterous, but Becca’s fierce independent streak and minimal respect for rules keeps putting her in bad places at bad times. The person who killed her dear friend—and it isn’t her—is still out there, and she’s determined to find out who it is, to protect herself and her reputation.
Author Kristi Abbot has all kinds of fun telling us Becca’s first story. Her playful dialogue and narration had me laughing aloud several times, adding an extra layer of enjoyment to an enjoyable genre:
”As for your latest lifesaving activities, I’m pretty sure you’re protected under the Good Samaritan law.” He looked up at me sharply. “Your actions weren’t willful or wanton, were they?”
“I wasn’t aware I could be wanton pulling someone out of a vehicle.” I hadn’t been wanton in a very long time. I wasn’t even sure I remembered what wanton felt like.
“I’ll take that as a no, then.” He marked something down on his legal pad while muttering, “Not wanton.”
The mystery itself is just north of average, but the character is likeable, and she is developed well enough to make her involvement in solving the mystery more believable than most in this genre. The strength of the writing boosts it an extra half star and makes me eager for a follow-up.
4 of 5 stars.