Cozy Mystery Review: Victoria Hamilton's A Deadly Grind
As you already know, dear reader, I'm a voracious cozy mystery fan. When you chew through a lot of one genre, it's easy to notice the books that stand out. That is why I have to take a few minutes to praise A Deadly Grind by Victoria Hamilton. Of the last eight (or so) mysteries that I have read as of late, this novel wowed me--both in execution and atmosphere.
When I picked up this first book in Hamilton's Vintage Kitchen Mystery Series, it was with hesitation, because its cozy niche did not sound particularly gripping. (As any cozy fan with tell: the niche and the sleuth are key factors.) I'm happy my first impression was off-base because Hamilton plots an excellent mystery, and her quiet protagonist slowly opens up to both herself and the reader; as Jaymie discovers more about what she wants to do with her life (as well as stumbles across a couple dead bodies), she comes into her own, making herself the protagonist in her own life story. (Cue the Nora Ephron quote, please.) I don't always love cooking mysteries, but Jaymie's "vintage kitchen" interest is less about recipes and more about appreciating the past.
Hamilton also smartly manages her red-herrings and love interests. I have a pet peeve about cozies introducing unnecessary love triangles and dull wrap-ups after the murder seems to be solved, but A Deadly Grind skirts all of that. The extra love interest is dismissed, and the plot has a sharp twist that propels the book to its conclusion. I look forward to reading more of Hamilton's books, and I highly recommend A Deadly Grind as an introduction to her work.