Trending Topic #Murder (Trending Topic Mystery Series)
1st in Series
Publisher: Camel Press (September 8, 2020)
Paperback: 218 pages
Digital ASIN: B08DH78VXM
I’m so excited to be a stop on the blog tour for author Sarah E. Burr and her new book Trending Topic #Murder. This is the first book in her A Trending Topic Mystery Series. I read it and thought it was good.
Meet 28-year-old celebrity blogger Coco Cline, who has started her own social media consulting company in her hometown of Central Shores, Delaware. Her new clients, Peter and Olivia Chen, are ten days away from the grand opening of their specialty consignment shop when Coco finds their store clerk Stacy dead behind the register.
Worried that a cloud of suspicion will ruin their chances of a successful business launch, the Chens ask Coco to work alongside the inexperienced, small-town police force to speed up the investigation. Using her celebrity status and social media savviness, Coco realizes Stacy’s seemingly ordinary life was all an act. Following a trail of cryptic online posts and muddied gossip, Coco and her friends discover Stacy’s questionable relationships just might be the reason for her untimely demise.
Choosing to ignore the unintended jab at my worn-out appearance, I picked up my fork and took a few bites of creamy macaroni to appease her worries. If the success of a viral post ever started going to my head, all I had to do was come to Mom and Dad’s for a reality check. To them, my online popularity was a foggy concept that hadn’t quite yet clicked into place, and honestly, I was extremely grateful. Sitting here, I could just be their daughter. “It’s been interesting, for sure.” I shot a look at Dad. “You two need to promise to keep this between us until an official statement has been made.” I stared them down until they both nodded in agreement.
Even more confused, worry now saturated Mom’s expression. “What’s going on?”
I walked them through the traumatic morning of finding Stacy’s body and dealing with the police, leaving them speechless at the conclusion of my story. “It’s hard to believe something like this could happen in Central Shores.” I shook my head at the thought.
Dad was the first to recover from the gruesome details. “Are they sure it was murder? Could something have dropped on her head when she was in the shop?”
“I’m having a hard time remembering the scene clearly. I was so focused on Stacy and that horrible gash that I didn’t really take a look around. Something must have told the police she was killed intentionally. One of the new cops on the force said the assailant walked right out the back door.” I rubbed my temples, massaging the memory in my mind.
“Oh my goodness, Delia, you could have been in the shop with him!” Mom gripped her face, her blue eyes widening with tears of fright.
Placing my fork on the table where I ate breakfast every morning growing up, I reached for her trembling hand. “I’m fine. A little shocked, that’s all.” Looking at the clock over the kitchen sink, I pushed my chair back. “Hudson will be home in an hour or so. I’d better get going. I need to stop by the urgent care clinic. The detective recommended I check in.”
My mother made moves to protest, but Dad reached over and squeezed her arm. “Be safe, kiddo, and let us know if you need anything.”
I nodded, heading toward the front door, surprised by the lump forming in my throat. Not one to normally show an abundance of fragile emotion, I took a deep breath, trying to calm my nerves. As much as I wanted the horrible image of Stacy out of my head, pushing her away felt disrespectful. Adding to the fact I hardly knew her, even though I saw her every day for nearly a month, I was racked with guilt over the whole thing. If I hadn’t waited around before letting myself in, perhaps I would have thwarted her attacker, or at least taken him by surprise. Why was she alone at the store? Olivia and Peter were always there to supervise her work. How did the culprit get in and out of the store if all the doors were locked? As I slid into the driver’s seat, I realized I hadn’t yet asked myself the biggest question of them all. Who could possibly have killed her?
“I’ll have a more concrete timeline once I speak with the police, but let’s assume we can open as planned. I don’t think the police hold on to crime scenes for very long, but I’ll see what I can do to persuade them to move quickly.” I was ever the optimist. “Before I forget,” I paused, reaching into my Cole Haan bag to pull out the printed PDF that my lawyer had sent to me last night, “here’s the amendment you’ve suggested.” I bit my lower lip as I thumbed through the document. I didn’t want to offend my clients, but their personal finances were in complete tatters. “Though, given your current situation, maybe we should just toss it out the window?”
Peter sighed. “I appreciate your concern, Coco, but we need the store to be successful, now more than ever, and that’s never going to happen if either Liv or I are tempted to badger the police.”
He grabbed a pen from the counter and scratched his signature across the page, pushing it over to his wife.
Olivia rolled her eyes before scrawling her name below her husband’s.
“Are you able to continue your inventory work remotely?” I directed my next question to Olivia as I put the document away.
Her eyes scanned the room, like she was doing phantom math right before our eyes. “I have all the merchandise photos uploaded to my cloud drive, so I’ll be able to import them into the website using my home computer.”
“Is all the inventory at the store, or do you have some here?” I ticked the next box on my list.
“Most of it is at the store, but we did have a few shipments sent here. Why?” Peter questioned.
I considered our options for a moment. I wasn’t one hundred percent sure that the police would give us access to the store by next Saturday, and we had the store’s image within the community to consider. The more I mulled it over, the more it seemed distasteful for the Chens to open right after their loyal employee was murdered, no matter how badly they needed to turn a profit. “I think we should plan a soft opening online. We can blast special promos for the event across your social media platforms, so there’s a certain exclusivity to it. It will make buyers feel like it’s ‘invite-only’. You can feature the pieces that were sent here, so if someone does buy something, you’ll be able to process it at home and ship it out. If we start selling pieces that are in the store, who knows if the police will be willing to let us retrieve them for shipping.”
Olivia didn’t look pleased. “That’s less than a quarter of our inventory! If we only advertise what’s here at the house, people will think our store is a joke.”
I didn’t not agree with her but knew our options were limited. “A soft opening gets your name out in the online retail world and allows for potential cash flow. We could also pursue hosting a benefit, where store pieces are auctioned off with the proceeds going to Stacy’s family, but you’d have to take a hit to your bottom line.”
As Olivia’s tiny body swelled in protest, I held up a hand to calm her down. “Before we make any decisions, let me go speak with the police. I’ll call you once I have more details.” I picked up my bag, preparing for my next assignment.
“Thank you, Coco. We really appreciate you going above and beyond on this one.” Peter gave me a weary smile as he escorted me to the door.
“I hope I don’t let you down.” I waved goodbye and climbed into Jolly, sounding a lot more confident than I felt.
I really liked the premise of this book. The protagonist is a young woman who is experienced in blogging, social media and is a social media influencer. I am not sure if I have read any other cozy mysteries like this one and it is refreshing.
The characters are well rounded and well developed. Coco is a twenty-eight year old social media consultant and she is pretty successful. With her boyfriend, Hudson, and her best friend, Charlotte and Jasper, things are going really good. Until Coco finds the dead body of Stacy, the store clerk of one of her clients. Having found the body, Coco feels like she has to help find the killer.
The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and these descriptions pulled me into the story right from the very beginning.
Through much of the book I felt like I was right there watching all of the action taking place. The mystery was well plotted and with lots of twists and turns, it was not easily solved. I considered the killer for a few minutes but quickly dismissed them.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery. This is the first book in this series and I cannot wait to see what Coco gets into next.
I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book and provided my honest review.
Sarah E. Burr grew up in the small town of Appleton, Maine and now lives outside New York City. Since she was seven, Sarah has wanted to be Nancy Drew, but she wasn’t stumbling across any mysteries in corporate America. Deciding it was time to follow her dreams, Sarah left her career in healthcare information technology three years ago and started writing mysteries of her own. The Trending Topic Mysteries is her first traditionally published series. Sarah also writes the Court of Mystery series.
Sarah attended Elmira College and graduated with degrees in Political Science and Philosophy & Religious Studies. She loves to weave these themes into her writing. When she’s not spinning up new stories, Ms. Burr is off seeing Broadway musicals, reading up a storm, video gaming, and enjoying walks around the city.
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