In my fantasy literary world, right next to being Grandma Mazur when I grow up, I want Cherry Tucker as my new BFF. I mean, who could resist those Stargazer Blue nails, tube tops that need constant re-adjusting, a woman who wakes up with her brother's foot jammed into her armpit, and the very best part, a heart bigger than a Sumo wrestler's daily calorie intake? While I do have to admit that I usually avoid books based on artists and how they do what they do (my idea of fine art is an Adirondack Chair on a beach in a tasteful frame), that presented no problem at all in my getting right into Cherry Tucker's story from the very beginning of the book. There was one other possible problem. This is book number 3 in Larissa Reinhart's series about Cherry, and I have not read the first two. This usually results in one of two options for me: either it becomes very irritating because I always feel like I'm an extreme latecomer to the party and can't catch up, OR I can't wait to read all the books that came before the one I'm reading so I can find out more about these quirky, interesting characters. In Reinhart's series I was missing some explanation for previous behavior; however, now I get the additional treat of reading the first two books to discover more info about what brought all these characters together. "The Bear" alone has piqued my interest to read more. The way Hijack In Abstract ended has me impatiently waiting for the next installment.
In this book, Cherry becomes involved in helping with a murder investigation when she is called to the police station in the middle of the night to draw a composite sketch of the murderer as given to her by an eye witness. As is usually the case with cozy mysteries, the setting is a small town where everyone knows or is related to everyone else as well as knowing everyone's personal business. At the moment the town is taking a dim view of Cherry because of some art work she did featuring a nude male model. One person's art is another person's smut, and for the most part the word circling town about Cherry is that she's creating pieces that are offending all the ladies from every church group in town. This along with an all out attack on Cherry from a rival artist combine to erode Cherry's reputation, and she believes this negativity could eventually drive her out of town. However, Cherry does have close Tucker family including extended "family" ties, so she's fighting the good fight to clear her name. This draws her further and further into the investigation of what has turned into two murders.
Before I rate any book, the one question I have is: would I buy this book or any of those included in the series. My answer this time is a resounding YES, and I would recommend this one to lovers of cozies, particularly stories with unusual quirky characters, loopy love interests, and a big priority for me, a good mystery. As goofy as Cherry Tucker can be, she still has a sharp intellect and a knack for finding out whatever it is she wants to know. I used to think that Charlotte MacLeod, Joan Hess, and Nancy Martin were the best authors in this genre. I haven't changed my mind about their position on the best-of-the-genre list, but they're going to have to move over for some authors in the Henery Press Hen House, particularly where Larissa Reinhart is concerned. I plan on reading more of her in the near future. I gave this book 4 Stars.
I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley in exchange for a review.