Friday, April 10, 2015


Publisher:    Berkley
Published:   January 6, 2015
ISBN:     978-0425252628
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Format:  Print
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Fire chief Stella Griffin has made her decision—she’s going to permanently make her home in Sweet Pepper Tennessee.  She likes the community, has begun to make some good friends and has an on again, off again relationship with police officer John Trump.  Oh…and she had a roommate…the ghost of the former fire chief, Eric Gamlyn. 

On the heels of solving Eric’s murder Stella has begun to develop quite the reputation of solving a murder or two. She just wants to do her job fighting fires but when a former state representative turns up dead, the victim of a suspicious fire.  Stella quickly finds herself in the middle of the investigation.

Not only is she caught up in what is quickly becoming a dangerous arson investigation, she’s also fighting to keep her home—which happens to be the cabin Eric built before he died. 

I’ve really been enjoying J.J. Cook’s Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade series and how the characters have been developing through the current read, book 3, IN HOT WATER.  Stella is an awesome character—a kick butt kinda gal with a heart of gold and some very sensitive moments.  She strives for balance in her life and does a good job of looking over situations and considering the best outcomes before making a decision.  When both Eric and several of the townsfolk start to tease her about finding a permanent beau—after all, Sweet Pepper IS a small town—she takes it in stride.  Even with the hubbub over the Sweet Pepper Festival with its big hats she joins right in.  In contrast, at a fire, she’s a complete professional. 

I had a bit of an issue with the changes in Eric—in IN HOT WATER he seemed to waffle back and forth between acting like a teenager and a doty old man.  He lost some of his masculinity in exchange for having an occasional pity party over his death.  I wondered a few times if the authors were at odds of where to go with his character and took turns writing him. 

I love the dogs, Sylvia and especially Hero.  The scenes with their training were really well done.

What was a turn off to me is that this author, like so many recently, leaves two major threads unresolved so that if you want to find out what happened you have to read the next book.  While many call this a “cliff-hanger” ala “who shot J.R.?” it doesn’t work for me. Yes, reading can be “cheap” enjoyment and you can read a good book over and over again…but leaving parts of stories unresolved comes across more like a ploy to get the reader to buy the next book rather than relying on the fact that an author can and does tell a good story. 

This is an objective review and an endorsement of this book.


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