The reason why I started reading Double Whammy by Gretchen Archer is that I got the second book in the Davis Day Crime Caper cozy series from NetGalley to read and review, and I just hate to start a series anywhere but at the beginning. So knowing that there is already a book published in the series, I just had to get it. And I have to say my money was well spent.
Davis Day from Pine Apple, Alabama (yes, that’s spelled correctly, along with her name) is an ex-police officer who had been working with her dad at the Pine Apple police station in the past. For reasons that you’ll find in the book, her dad kicked her out from work and now she’s unemployed and stuck in a small town that doesn’t care for her (particularly her mom) very much.
Not especially since her troubles that started with her second divorce from Eddie. Yes, you read that right. She was married to the same sleazy guy (described in her own words) not once, but twice. And she didn’t even love him – not the first, and not the second time around.
So when she spots an add in the newspaper about a security job at a casino all the way in Biloxi, Mississippi, she jumps at the opportunity to finally stand on her own feet after being unemployed for over a year. For starters she’s more than qualified for it: she knows the ins and outs of doing detective work, she knows to fire a gun and she knows her way around computers all too much – after all she’s quite a well-accomplished hacker in her personal time (not that she’s doing anything illegal with her underground knowledge, mind you).
After 6 weeks of interviews with all sorts of interesting (or not so much) looking people, she finally lands the job after having spoken with the big boss himself. There is a fun moment during the interview with her boss, Richard Sanders, which you’ll simply have to read. I had a painful (yet funny in retrospective) flashback at one of my own job interviews back in the day and boy I felt Davis’ pain!
So after talking to her the boss, she gets the job, which as the boss so well describes entails her being the new super-secret weapon at the Bellissimo Casino – whatever that might mean – which she’ll find soon enough when she is handed a bunch of money and some disguise to go to the casino and learn how Double Whammy – one of the casino games – is played and find out how the same people keep winning the slot machine over and over again.
The more the story unfolds the more Davis starts to see various patterns in how the game is won – with the winner taking over one million dollars with them. Her only ally seems to be the old, beat up a cab driver, George, a quiet old guy who seems to recognize Davis every time, no matter what disguise she uses day by day when she enters his cab. And does a snicker or two to let her know of the fact in no charming ways.
Soon the two of them together figure out a scary story that includes murder – possibly with her twice-ex being the next victim. And even though she hates him for destroying her life, for stealing all her money and for being simply him, she has to save her ex. Even if she…
Well, if I reveal more of the plot, I’ll give away everything, so I’ll restrain, but seriously it’s such a fun mystery, it’s worth reading for yourself.
The story is charming and full of good-natured humor. I really enjoyed how Davis gives names to various characters, including No Hair and Teeth.
Many of the side characters are really well fleshed out. Nathalie is a force to be reckoned with. George is the typical quiet PI style (he’s not a PI though) who knows more things than he lets known, surprising Davis every step of the way. The boss’s wife, Bianca, is literally her spit image, and Davis herself is a really complex character with a lot going on in her head.
In fact, at times it seems there’s too much going on in her head. Sometimes she’s the quick-witted technically inclined detective who really has a lot of background and knowledge and proves it in her job, while other time she’s simply an airhead that I can’t reconcile with her other half of her character. Especially when she really seems slow on the uptake in more such dialogues in the book that I care for:
“…’s the brains behind it. She has the key, and she is keeping the money.” (says Davis)
“How’d she get it?”
“Get what?” (asks Davis)
“Not Eddie” (says Davis)
“Who, when?” (asks Davis)
It’s like she forgets in the middle of the discussion what the discussion is about. But really, except this small flaw, I really enjoyed reading Double Whammy, I found it a fun debut cozy mystery for a series with great potential, and I truly learned to care about Davis and to want to know more about her adventures at the Bellissimo casino. Good thing is, I already have the second book in the series and I’ll start to read it soon.
If you want to read a fun cozy which is in a way similar to Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series, yet still stands on its own very well, without any props from the masters, this is one worth checking out.