Series: Rose Strickland Mystery, Book 2
Author: Terri L. Austin
Published: December 3rd 2012 by Henery Press
Age group: Adult
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Rose Strickland is having a blue Christmas. Her friend is arrested for attempted murder, her sexy bad guy crush is marked by a hit man, and her boss is locked in an epic smackdown with a rival diner. Determined to save those she loves, Rose embarks on an investigation more tangled than a box of last year’s tree lights.
With her eclectic gang at the ready, Rose stumbles across dead bodies, ex-cons, chop shops, jealous girlfriends, jilted lovers, and a gaggle of strippers in a battle for freedom she might not survive.
Having read the first book in the Rose Strickland Series last week, I was right away hooked onto it, and couldn’t wait to read the next one ‘Last Diner Standing’. You can guess, that I had really high expectations about it, but they were all justified.
Just like the first installment, ‘Diners, Dives & Dead Ends’ focuses on its main character Rose Strickland navigating the crime world of Huntingford City. This time Rose is trying to prove the innocence of her friend Janelle, who is accused of hitting her ex-husband (known from the previous book as Asshat) and murdering his lover Crystal (or Chicken Licker :)). Janelle swears she didn’t do anything, but she may go to prison for life if her innocence isn’t confirmed. Besides, she has two kids to raise, and of she is imprisoned they will go into foster care. Rose is a true and reliable friend, and she believes Janelle wholeheartedly. In fact, she starts her own investigation, when the police once again turns out useless.
Rose Strickland is the kind of character I couldn’t help but admire. I already mentioned in my review of ‘Diners, Dives & Dead Ends’, that she was a very refreshing type of heroine. She is a loyal and devoted friend, has a good head on her shoulders and a wicked sense of humor. But what is also great about her is that she is very independent and won’t let anybody make decisions for her (Even Sullivan, though he really tries). It’s been a long time since I really loved a book character, but Rose is so amazing. She is the type of person I would definitely be friends with in real life.
But, as a matter of fact, ‘Last Diner Standing’ simply abounds in a set of good, well-developed characters, both main and supporting. It’s not like other books where you only care about the main characters and all the others fade into the background. In Terri L. Austin’s books everyone has their own story, either funny or mysterious, but all intertwined with Rose’s.
I loved the addition of the diners’ confrontation as a side-story. While Rose rushed all over the town in search of the real killer, there were some really funny thing happening at her workplace. Ma, the owner of the diner Rose works as a waitress at, is all worked up about her rival Rudy now serving breakfasts, too. But Ma isn’t going to let this pass, her diner has been famous for their breakfasts for many years. And now Ma isn’t going to lose, even if it means for her to start serving lunches, which slowly exhausts both her and her staff. The battle of the diners was such an amusing plot line and after reading about Rose’s dangerous adventures, it was a good contrast to let my mind relax at this humorous drama.
What was only a hint at romance in the first book, now is a strong growing attraction between Rose and Sullivan. Their romance may be considered forbidden (what with Sullivan being a high-profile criminal), but just like Rose I could easily forget about it, when Sullivan was so attentive and caring. Again it was a good contrast, as it showed that not every criminal is heartless, like those Rose met in her investigation. Some of them are normal people, who just happened to be on the other side of the law system.
The cozy mystery books by Terri L. Austin are the first of this genre that I’ve read, and now I’ve become a real fan, especially of this particular series. I’m in a desperate need to get my hands on the continuation, I really hope it will come out soon. These books are the ones that can make you forget the time and place you’re in, as their intriguing plots won’t let you stop reading till the very ending. Thanks to Terri L. Austin for such a wonderful reading experience!
Favorite character: Rose Strickland
Favorite quote: “There are some absolutes in this life that are irrefutable. If you leave the house looking like crap, you’ll see someone you know, usually an ex-boyfriend. If you’re running late for an appointment, you’ll hit every red kight on the way. And a three a.m. phone call is never good news.”