G. A. McKevett's Savannah Reid is a southern belle who has been displaced to Southern California. She was once a police officer, but after being kicked off the force, she has now opened her own business as a private investigator. With the help of her apprentice Tammy and her former police partner Dirk, Savannah solves crimes in this mystery series. Killer Calories is the third book that chronicles Savannah's mystery-solving skills.
The business world becomes personal when Tammy's other employer is found dead at the spa she owned. Kat Valentina was once a beautiful and famous actress. After her career fizzled, she opened a spa in southern California with her husband and manager. The spa is a health-oriented one that serves green sludge disguised as breakfast and almost kills its visitors with exercise morning, noon, and night. But it's also a troubled spa, complete with a stalker security guard, a quack of a doctor, and elderly, spying neighbors. When Savannah gets an anonymous letter in the mail stuffed full of cash, asking her to investigate, she and Tammy jump at the chance to find out if Tammy's former actress/boss met death by her own hand or someone else's. Or was her murder just an accident -- too many margaritas mixed with an overly-heated mud bath?
Savannah is fun -- lots of it. And she likes to eat; she has Dirk sneak her out of the spa several times to eat bad breakfast food and burgers. She also enjoys fine dining with her friends John and Ryan, an elegant gay couple. She offers one-liners with style, and fights crime with her black belt in karate. McKevett's mystery is what Danna from Cozy (& Not So Cozy) Mystery Books and DVDs would call a cozy mystery. What does that mean, you might ask? Well, Danna includes an essay on what makes a mystery a "cozy mystery." Here is how McKevett's book fits to that definition:
- Savannah "is an amateur sleuth. . . . Her education and life’s experiences have provided her with certain skills that she will utilize in order to solve all the crimes that are 'thrown her way.' [And] she is usually a very intuitive, bright woman." Yes, Savannah used to be a police officer. However, she was kicked off the squad. And she isn't doing very well as a private investigator -- she has bills piled up on every surface of her house. So that makes her an "amateur" in my opinion.
- San Carmelita is in southern California, but it is still "a small town or village... The small size of the setting makes it believable that all the suspects know each other [and the spa setting feeds into that even more. Savannah is] a very likeable person who is able to get the community members to talk freely (i.e. gossip) about each other. There [are multiple people who are] very knowledgeable and nosy (and of course, very reliable!) characters in the book who are able to fill in all of the blanks, thus enabling [Savannah] to solve the case."
- Savannah is "not a medical examiner, detective, or police officer [-- even though she used to be -- but] her best friend [and former partner Dirk] is. This makes a very convenient way for her to find out things that she would otherwise not have access to."
- "The local police force [except for her friend Dirk] doesn’t take [Savannah] very seriously. They dismiss her presence, almost as if she doesn’t exist. This of course, makes it convenient for her to 'casually overhear' things at the scene of a crime." And in Savannah's case, they even let her examine the body; of course, none of her meetings with the medical examiner yield any results -- the medical examiner is convinced that Savannah is crazy for investigating the case and that all initial test reports were complete.
- "In [this] series, [all of] the characters are likeable, so that the reader will want to visit them again. The supporting characters are equally important to the reader. It is for this reason that there are so many funny, eccentric, and entertaining secondary characters," such as Tammy, Dirk, John, & Ryan.
I've already checked the fourth book in the series out at the library (for some reason, the first and second books aren't available) and I will be reading it soon. Also -- more on this later, but for now -- you can see the entire list for this series on my Series site, so that you read in order and don't miss anything!