Colorful Cozy with Texas Sass
I love Anna Castle’s way with words. The first person narration of this book has so much personality, humor and style, I could have enjoyed it for the writing alone, but the setting, characters and plot are equal to the words. The fictional town feels true to the region, a mix of Anglo and Hispanic, of Southern and Western. Athletic, witty, and independent, photographer Penny Trigg stands out among cozy mystery protagonists, and the book as whole is refreshingly free of the features that have made many cozies too much alike in recent years. If you’re allergic to cuteness, no worries. You can read this book with pleasure.
Being a little too impulsive for her own good, Penny makes some decisions that get her in trouble, and her path to getting out of it leads her into the citizens of Lost Hat’s secrets, the investigation of two murders, and of course, more trouble.
The first character to die was so real and likeable, I had no discomfort at all with Penny’s involvement in finding out why he died and who did it. Amateurs’ motives need to be plausible, and her stakes are high. She has additional good reasons to investigate murder and blackmail, as does her new friend Krystle, an equally original character, not the typical sidekick. I especially loved the scene where Krystle talks Penny into a reckless attempt at sleuthing, and Murphy’s Law kicks in with hilarious results.
There’s a third member of the sleuthing trio: intelligent, cautious, and self-effacing Tillie. She’s an asset as well as a contrast. Their investigative teamwork ranges from adventurous and funny to patient and still funny, and their encounters with their suspects take the reader on a colorful tour of Lost Hat. I didn’t figure out whodunit. The last two suspects stayed in the running right up until the end.
The romantic subplot is tightly integrated into the mystery plot, as are Penny’s work as a photographer and her boyfriend’s computer expertise. Every element serves the story and gives the reader’s reasons to care what happens.
I seldom binge read a series, but I’m already on the second book. Stay tuned for the next review.
— Amber Foxx, Indies Who Publish Everywhere
“If you’re in the mood for a lighthearted mystery with lots of giggles, look no further. It’s the perfect book for the beach.
“Murder and mayhem abound in Anna Castle’s cozy mystery novel Black & White & Dead All Over.
“Anna Castle’s cozy mystery will have many laughing over the antics of Lost Hat’s residents. Small communities are perfect settings for these types of novels since almost everyone knows everyone else’s business. For the most part. Penny, the outsider, relies on two friends from Lost Hat to guide her through the community’s do’s and don’ts. Their investigation reveals that even in a small town, people still manage to have carefully guarded secrets.
“Even though Penny is the only suspect the police interview in the novel, Castle does an excellent job of introducing a plethora of suspects adding to the fun of guessing who done it. Blackmail and fear can bring the worst out of people, even people who are known for being kind and level-headed. And since the blackmailer has many victims, the suspect pool is vast, and their bumbling small-town shenanigans make for entertaining reading.
“There’s not a lot of action in the novel, but that doesn’t matter. This novel is driven by the quirky characters and the setting. Many are desperate to keep their secrets hidden, and all the intricacies of small town life shine even for readers who’ve never lived in such a place. Castle does an amazing job of setting the atmosphere and she sprinkles in details that scream small-town America in a comical way, making readers laugh.
“Castle’s writing is solid and she has such a way of creating characters that are unique, funny, and sincere. Even the evil ones. The snappy dialogue is a mix of the Thin Man if he visited Mayberry. The genuineness of the characters really makes the inhabitants of Lost Hat jump off the pages and you may want to move there yourself. Or at least be a fly on the wall.
“This is the first book in The Lost Hat, Texas mystery series and it’s a promising start. Hopefully, the author will be able to keep up the quirkiness and charm in future installments. Fingers crossed that readers find this gem of a novel, giving the author a reason to continue. If you’re in the mood for a lighthearted mystery with lots of giggles, look no further. It’s the perfect book for the beach.”
– 5 stars from Cate Baum, Self-Publishing Review
“Black & White & Dead All Over: A Lost Hat, Texas Mystery” by Anna Castle is a deftly crafted mystery thriller replete with unexpected twists and surprising turns. A solid entertainment for mystery fans from beginning to end, “Black & White & Dead All Over” is a terrific read that will leave her readers looking eagerly toward the next ‘Lost Hat, Texas’ mystery novel.
“Highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.”
— James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, Midwest Book ReviewReturn to Black & White & Dead All Over