By Steven R. Lindahl on October 29, 2016
Debbie De Louise’s new novel Between A Rock and a Hard Place is a great example of a “cozy mystery.” This type of novel is defined by Wikipedia as “a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.” Between A Rock and a Hard Place takes place in Cobble Cove, a small community that reminds me of Stars Hollow from the TV show Gilmore Girls, except when things go wrong in Cobble Cove they go REAL wrong.
De Louise spends the first part of her book establishing the warm and fuzzy atmosphere of life in Cobble Cove. Alicia, the main character, is a happily married mother of twin babies, Carol and Johnny. (The boy is named after Alicia’s husband, John.) Alicia works as a librarian at Cobble Cove’s public library where she has a good relationship with all her coworkers and a wonderful director, Sheila, who is as understanding as anyone can be about work/life balance. Sheila works the circulation desk if someone has a conflict and is not above bending the rules slightly to offer an employment opportunity to one of Alicia’s friends. Alicia is leading as idyllic a lifestyle as is humanly possible, until she notices some odd, slightly frightening things happening in her community.
Between A Rock and a Hard Place is the second Cobble Cove mystery. There are a number of references to actions that took place in the first book, A Stone’s Throw, but this novel can stand on its own. I haven’t read the first and had no trouble understanding what led to the events in the second.
The mystery in De Louise’s novel is good, with a horrible crime and enough possible suspects to keep the plot interesting, but the characters and community dominate the work. I would recommend Between A Rock and a Hard Place to readers who like their crime stories in gentle environments. It reminded me of a number of TV series I’ve enjoyed, including Murder She Wrote and Rosemary and Thyme.
Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul, White Horse Regressions, and Hopatcong Vision Quest
This is a cozy mystery in every sense of the word. Widowed librarian Alicia Fairmont sets out to find answers about her husband’s family, which he’d worked so hard to keep her from when he was alive. Her search takes her to the tiny town of Cobble Cove, where she finds a lot more than she’s looking for: dark secrets that could put her life in jeopardy, as well as a new chance at love.
This was a comforting book to nestle up with. It’s a slow-burn and sweet romance, and a gentle mystery that holds you until it picks up like wildfire towards the end, with twists and turns that keep you guessing. It’s a great read for those winter evenings in front of the fire with a cup of tea.
Amazon for “A Stone’s Throw”
Librarian Alicia Fairmont’s husband has died in a hit and run accident. In an effort to cope with Peter’s death, Alicia visits his boyhood town of Cobble Cove. Peter Fairmont never spoke about his mother and sister and made it clear to Alicia that he didn’t want anything to do with them. Alicia has no relations of her own, which drives her to seek out Peter’s family.
Cobble Cove is your quintessential small town, with its picturesque setting and quirky characters. Alicia’s reception is lukewarm until she meets handsome John McKinney. He gives her the grand tour and together they search for Peter’s family who no longer live in the town. The search is interrupted when Alicia is called home to deal with another tragedy and John accompanies her.
As Alicia and John’s attraction grow, so do the obstacles in their relationship. More details of what happened to Alicia’s husband are uncovered. Evidence points to John’s involvement. The mysterious disappearance of a Cobble Cove resident further complicates matters.
The main characters, as well as some of the ancillary ones, are likeable, and the few ornery ones are described to perfection. The tension level and romance are just right for a cozy mystery/romance. In addition to murder, the author skillfully weaves a story of love, betrayal, and redemption. One of my favorite genres, I found A STONE’S THROW an enjoyable and satisfying read and highly recommend it.
Author – Debbie De Louise
Publication Date – November 17, 2015
Genre – Romantic Suspense
Type – Stand-Alone
Cliffhanger – No
Rating – 4.5 out of 5 Stars
I’m highly impressed with this story and the author. The writing is great and Ms. De Louise has a gift describing in detail the setting and actions. There were times I felt that I was right there in Cobble Cove with Alicia having some tea and muffins or a PB&J. I loved these characters and how it all unfolded at the very end. I was expecting a dark twist that probably would have upset me but I was happily surprised and closed this book with a sappy smile on my face.
Alicia just lost her husband six months ago in a hit and run accident and to overcome her grief, she feels that it’s necessary to sweep up some lose ends with his past. She travels to Cobble Cove and meets John immediately. Both are drawn to the other and they proceed to try and uncover all the mysterious things that are starting to happen since she showed up.
It’s an Agatha Christie meets a small town living!
Reason for Reading – Author Request
Story Rating – 5 out of 5 Stars
Steam Rating – 4 out of 5 Stars
Angst Rating – 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Writing Rating – 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Content Flow Rating – 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Would Read More from Author? Yes
Recommend to – Anyone who loves a great love story within a mystery.
5-star Goodreads review for Cloudy Rainbow:
Lisa Diaz Diaz‘s review
CLOUDY RAINBOW by Debbie De Louise
Goodreads review for Cloudy Rainbow