All’s Well That Ends by Gillian Roberts

All's Well That Ends by Gillian Roberts
All’s Well That Ends by Gillian Roberts
An Amanda Pepper Mystery
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (161 Pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Barring the usual teenage pranks, all seems peaceful at Philly Prep, the private school in Philadelphia where Amanda Pepper teaches English. No doubt the money that appears to be missing from funds collected to aid victims of a catastrophic hurricane Down South will turn up. Probably the rumor that some of Amanda’s students have discovered the thrills of gambling is totally unfounded.

In any case, Amanda has other things to think about. Her husband, private investigator C. K. MacKenzie, is struggling to help his Louisiana kinfolk reconstruct their post-hurricane lives. Her friend Sasha’s stepmother has just committed suicide–although, according to Sasha, Phoebe Ennis would never have killed herself, especially not while having a drink and wearing a red silk blouse and red sandals with four-inch heels.

Amanda isn’t persuaded but reluctantly agrees to help investigate the woman’s demise, though the evidence for foul play is slim. True, the middle-aged compulsive collector of knickknacks wasn’t universally loved. Phoebe’s own son hated her and she bored her friends to death with hints of her “royal” lineage. And with four marriages behind her, she was already preparing to announce her renewed availability on the Net. But when another woman is found dead in Phoebe’s house, it becomes clear that something is indeed murderously amiss, and much closer to home than Amanda or anyone else could have imagined.

What do you do when you just know something is wrong in spite of all the logic and evidence to the contrary. Well, if you have a good friend who is training to become a private investigator, you plead with her to fly in the face of everything and find out the truth. Amanda’s best friend Sasha just knows that her step-mother did not commit suicide so she convinces Amanda and Mackenzie,her husband and a former police detective, to investigate.

Amanda Pepper is a wonderful character, well-defined, with a lot of depth. She teaches high school English at Philly Prep, an exclusive private school for underachievers. To supplement the household budget, she also works for a private investigator’s firm. The supporting characters are rich and interesting, including not only Sasha and Mackenzie, but also a number of quirky and fun characters especially among Amanda’s students. One of the most unusual of the secondary characters is Opal, the new school secretary. She is determined to rescue long lost words and keep them from falling into oblivion, and so Amanda learns the meaning of words such as archididascalos (school principal). When Amanda says that she has never heard of that word, Opal says, “Few have, alas. And amazingly, it’s not in every dictionary, but it is a perfectly good word.”

The plot is fast moving with plenty of suspects for what may or may not be a crime. Amanda has other things to worry about as well. Mackenzie’s family has been hard hit by the hurricane in Louisiana and he tries to help remotely. Students are gambling just off of school property and funds from the relief money meant to help the victims in Louisiana are being stolen. Amanda has too many irons in the fire, but somehow, she manages to stay on top of it all. The ending is something I never saw coming, but at the same time, the clues were there and the author certainly plays fair with her readers.

This is the fourteenth novel in the Amanda Pepper series and it is every bit as enjoyable and as fresh as the others. Like the others in the series, it also stands alone as a totally independent story. Great characters involved in an intricate plot that keeps the reader guessing right to the end makes All’s Well That Ends a great cozy mystery. Mystery readers are sure to enjoy riding along with Amanda.

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