Review of Stiff Penalty

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Mattie Watson is a deputy coroner who is investigating the death of a high school teacher, Derrick Ames.  Mattie knows it is a murder because he has a barbecue fork sticking out of his chest.  With the help of her boyfriend, Hurley, and other members of the police department, Mattie is determined to find out who the killer is.  They have only a few clues to go by and even fewer suspects so it will not be an easy task.

While dealing with the murder, Mattie also has a stalker to worry about.  She notices a car following her around at different times and she begins getting hang-up phone calls.  When there is an attempt made on her life she knows that she is not imaging the threat.

And if that is not enough to handle, Mattie finds out that she is pregnant.  She knows the father of her baby is Hurley and she knows that she loves him but she does not know how he is going to take the news.  Hurley recently found out that he is the father of a teenage daughter and he has told Mattie that fatherhood is not something he ever wanted.  And although she knows that he cares for her, she is not sure if Hurley loves her.

Mattie is a character that I fell in love with.  She is stubborn, fearless, funny and loyal.  She puts on a brave face and wants others to think that she has her act together, but that is far from the truth.  She has insecurities about being a good mother and abandonment issues since her father walked away when she was young.   She is vulnerable and has many worries that she keeps to herself.  I literally laughed out loud at some of the things that happened to her during her pregnancy.  Memories of my own pregnancy kept creeping in and I could so relate to all the un-fun things that happened during that time.   I thought this aspect of the book was perfectly written and I really enjoyed that.

The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read.  The two mysteries are carried on throughout the entire book and I was surprised when the killer was revealed.  I did not figure out the killer at all and I really like that.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-crafted cozy.  This book had it all, mystery, suspense, humor and heartwarming moments.  I have read the first book in this series and after reading this book, I now have book two to read. This book could be read as a stand alone, the characters are well developed enough for that, but I would suggest reading the series in order, just so that you can read more about Mattie.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.  And I can honestly say that I give this book a five star rating because I thought it was really great.  I would like to thank NetGalley and Kensington Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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