"A Decadent Way to Die" by G.A. McKevett: Book Review

"A Decadent Way to Die" by G.A. McKevett
Kensington, 294 pp., $24
Reviewed by David Marshall James

This sixteenth entry in the Savannah Reid mystery series is as tasty and satisfying as the expensive chocolates in which the title character indulges before, during, and after her rose-scented bubble baths.

Small wonder, then, that the somewhere-between-forty-and-fifty Savannah is enjoying such a long run in the Forrest Gumpian "box of chocolates" assortment of mystery novels.

The main ingredient to the success of this series is Savannah herself, in all her "raised by a Georgia granny" glory.

Savannah emerges as a thoughtfully conceived character, rich with nuances, who shoulders the works with ease.

A hardworking gal needs her strength, and Savannah can whip up something delectable from her Southern culinary roots, especially if friends are dropping by for dinner. And the lady does like to entertain.

She used to be a cop with the fictional San Carmelita P.D. She still misses the work, but those run-ins with the chief and the captain were really bringing her down. Now, she's her own boss, with a small P.I. agency and a much-devoted, still-a-cop buddy, Dirk Coulter.

Or, are they more than buddies?

Savannah is ably assisted by a thoroughly West Coast, organic-anything-worshipping young blonde named Tammy.

Tams can clash cultures with Savannah faster than you can say, "Deep fried chicken," but Savannah's fond and highly protective of her helper, and Tammy requires heaps of help as the bilge is fairly gushing from her latest dreamboat.

Therein lies one strand of the plot. The main course features a case brought to Savannah by the granddaughter of an elderly entrepreneur who developed a successful line of collectible dolls. Savannah even has one from her childhood, tucked away in her cedar chest.

Is someone trying to kill the wealthy grandmother? Or, are all those accidents she's been having just mishaps? She's not giving up without a fight, and, like Rooster Cogburn, she's got true grit.

And Savannah has true grits.

Author G.A. McKevett (a pseudonym for Sonja Massie) blends many shades of humor with many gradations of seriousness in a tightly plotted mystery with plenty of payoffs.

The dialogue between Savannah and Dirk is particularly noteworthy, and fate-- as the author would have it-- is moving them deservedly closer.

Reading this novel is like sitting down with a box of chocolates, full of delights, some surprises, and-- before you realize it-- you've polished off the whole thing.

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