Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: Footprints in the Sand

Summary: It's the dead of winter and struggling actress and wedding-cake decorator Piper Donovan is thrilled to be in warm and romantic Sarasota, Florida, enjoying the powdery white beaches, soothing seas, and golden sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. She and her family are there to celebrate her beloved cousin's wedding. Not only is Piper creating the sugar-sand-dollar-festooned wedding cake, she's also the maid of honor. 

But a cloud seems to be hovering over the whole affair. Shortly after a bridesmaid mysteriously disappears, a kindly neighbor's car is run off the road and a prospective witness, an innocent Amish teenager, is threatened to keep silent. Then a body is found on the beach where the wedding will take place. With the nuptials threatened, it falls to Piper to unmask a killer. Could it be the wedding planner with something to hide? A doctor and his wife who collect unusual Japanese figurines? The best man, an ex–drug dealer with lecherous eyes and roving hands? What about her cousin's future stepfather—or even the bridegroom himself? 

As Piper gets close to figuring out who's been covering his guilty footprints in the sand, the cunning killer has already set his sights on Piper as his next victim! -- William Morrow

FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND by Mary Jane Clark is the third book in the Piper Donovan Mystery series, and since I read and enjoyed the first two, I was interested to see what was next in store for Piper. Piper is a struggling actress who also works part time as a cake decorator at her mom's bakery. Because of her day job making wedding cakes, Piper finds herself at a lot of weddings. Unfortunately, she also finds herself caught up in a lot of murder mysteries.

In FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND, Piper is heading to Sarasota, Florida, to be her cousin's maid-of-honor as well as her chief cake designer. Despite the gorgeous location, things don't seem quite right to Piper especially after a bridesmaid goes missing. Add to that, an elderly woman is run off the road, the best man is an ex-con, and an Amish teenager is acting suspicious. When the bridesmaid's body is found buried on the beach, Piper once again finds herself trying to solve a murder mystery and salvage her cousin's dream wedding.

I have to admit that I enjoy this series, but they are very much cozies; and I realize that when I pick up one of these books, it's more of an escape read than anything else. FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND was a very quick read and I actually guessed the culprit pretty early on. The thing is I wasn't sure of the motive until it was revealed at the end of the book. I just had a "feeling" about the murderer if that makes any sense.

Maybe because I've read a few of these books, but I'm finding that they kind of all read the same. That's a common complaint for me when it comes to cozy series. I feel like the characters are pretty much flat, even Piper, and the relationship she has with her parents is very predictable. For example, her dad is an ex-cop who is extremely overprotective of Piper even though she's 27 years old. Not to say that he shouldn't keep an eye on her because her judgment is lacking, but I'd like to see some growth in both characters.

And one thing that was missing from FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND that I surprisingly enjoyed in the first book was the sexual tension between Piper and her FBI boyfriend Jack. Jack appeared in a few scenes via phone before he arrived in Sarasota, but he didn't play a major role in the story until the very end. I guess what I'm saying is that I really like his character and hope that the next book has more Jack in it!

I did appreciate the mystery angle of this story, but I'm not sure it was my favorite of this series. There were quite a few clues given and I'm happy to say that I even picked up on a few of them. There was some foreshadowing that was pretty blatant, though, so I imagine that most readers will find themselves figuring out at least part of the mystery and/or associated crimes.

Finally, I did like that the story took place in Sarasota. I thought the author did a great job of bringing this beautiful setting to life, and I also enjoyed how she included some educational information about the area. I especially liked how the tie-in with the sea turtles and their hatching. She even had the couple meet when they were monitoring the sea turtles nests.

Overall, I'm not sure that this was my favorite Piper Donovan mystery; however, I enjoyed it enough to continue when the next installment is available.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

It sounds like this wasn't the best in the series but still worth reading for a fun escape.

Beth F said...

I have this one in my stacks and I was hoping to get to is soon. I like Jack too.

Alison Skap said...

Oh, I could use a cozy book right about now and this looks like an enjoyable series. Adding the first to my TBR list - thanks!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Too bad - I liked Jack as well! But I have to say I would worry about hiring Piper since people seem to drop dead when she is there! LOL

The Readingista said...

I am so glad that I saw this come up in my reader. I love cozies and was not aware that this series is a cozy type mystery. Thanks for your informative review.