Deadlines: A Written to Death Mystery Book 1 by E. Hepner

Deadlines: A Written to Death Mystery Book 1 by E. Hepner
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (386 Pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Ainsley Moss never thought she’d become a representative for the dead. But as a newbie obituary writer for the Aurora Fall’s Guardian, she gets a sneak peek at her new profession. Her ex-best friend and rival newspaper worker turns up blue and stiff as a board in the women’s bathroom—after they’ve had a less than civil confrontation.

Ainsley’s in the habit of memorializing the dead, not finding them. But now she’s saddled with a motive for murder—killing to drum up obituaries in order to further her career in a dying newspaper business where everything is going digital.

When another victim meets his maker with a connection to the first victim, Ainsley has to make nice with a hard ass, bombshell Detective who’s dead set on closing the case or risk the calm of their cozy town. Ainsley’s charming, ex-boyfriend turned roommate Gage Sullivan comes to her aid as they throw themselves into deadly research. Every obituary interview brings them that much closer to finding a killer connection. While fighting her new rep as a prime suspect, her matchmaking, Stepford mother is intent on keeping her daughter’s dirty laundry under wraps and her sex addicted wealthy grandparents want to buy her way out of jail. Or at least help her learn how to make a shiv.

None too thrilled with the idea of making friends with a cell mate named Betty the Bruiser, she’ll wade knee deep into a cesspool of the town’s secrets, gossip, and lies. But with a whacky cast of characters hell bent on keeping the peace, no bit of personal information is sacred. They have to find a killer—before Ainsley loses her freedom and her chance to make peace with a fate that scares her more than anything else in life.

Ainsley Moss has returned home after graduation to the small town of Aurora Falls.  Her mother pulls some strings to get her a job at the town’s newspaper as an obituary writer, to replace the one who just died, and a place to live, sharing a home with Gage Sullivan, a guy she’d dumped when they were in school. Coming home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be as Ainsley quickly finds out. Her ex-best friend who now also works at the newspaper attacks her in the ladies room because she doesn’t want Ainsley working at the newspaper. Shortly thereafter, Ainsley finds her dead in a stall in the ladies room and Ainsley is arrested. Now, Ainsley has a real motive to find the actual murderer, while at the same time trying to write two obituaries, for the ex-obituary writer and her ex-best friend.

The town of Aurora Falls is filled with gossip and weird, funky characters. As Ainsley and Gage start gathering information for the obituaries, they also gather clues about the murder, a murder which is quickly followed by a second. As the plot thickens, Ainsley and Gage become more and more tangled in the investigation.

Ainsley is a fun character, who is very scattered. She doesn’t seem to know what she wants, and I’m not at all sure what Gage sees in her. But given the nature of her controlling mother, it’s a wonder Ainsley is able to function at all. I did find a number of characters in the novel to be a bit over-the-top, especially the aunt of the first victim. And the murderer turns out to be someone very unlikely.

Mystery readers in search of some light-hearted fun and a story filled with quirky characters will find all of that in Deadlines, the first in a series. It will be most interesting to see what Ainsley gets up to next.

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