Stunner by Niki Danforth is the first book in the Ronnie Lake Mystery series. I received the book with a request to read and review, and as the book description sounded interesting enough, I was game.
Ronnie Lake is currently unemployed (downsized), divorced and with a lot of time on her hands. Not the youngest either, sure she will find a job soon, but right now there’s no hurry at all, especially since she doesn’t have a money problem. She engages in martial art classes in her spare time and loves her dog that accompanies her everywhere.
One day she gets a surprise visit from her brother, accompanied by Julianna, his new and younger girlfriend. Ronnie gets a strange feeling about her right away, as if she’d met her before. Julianna seems too secretive. Of course the fact that Ronnie’s niece, Laura, is concerned about some weird things that are happening at her home since Julianna arrived, makes the decision for Ronnie to play private detective that much easier.
Julianna seems to have, indeed, a lot of secrets, which become so much more mysterious with the hang up calls that she gets – 3-4 every day. Laura is worried about her dad getting entangled with the wrong, younger woman. Laura’s worries about Julianna rub off on Ronnie as well – afterall she won’t want her brother to fall for the wrong woman either.
The more Ronnie investigates Julianna’s past, the weirder things get, to the point that Ronnie’s life is now in danger as well. Somebody doesn’t want her to dig in Julianna’s secret (and possibly fake) past, but what they don’t know is that Ronnie is a strong headed woman who doesn’t give up easily.
I found her at times rather arrogant, but she does have her heart in the right place, and afterall she is a middle aged woman, so she is allowed these character eccentricities (I can only imagine how much worse she’ll get by the age of 70, lol)
At some point even her brother gets annoyed with Ronnie’s sleuthing and strictly forbids her to even come to their home anymore.
The story is quite fun and the book is an easy read. While not very fast paced, it does have enough twists and turns to keep you reading on to see what happens next.
Ronnie is definitely a bullheaded woman who doesn’t back up easily, and some people might be annoyed by her character. She is quite impulsive and does things before thinking them through, which on one hand make her sleuthing a dangerous thing, but on the other hand, help her figure out things that can change the course of the family’s entire life.
As for Julianna, I was not sure about her until the end. I was alternating between here being the bad person and the good one and the ending came quite as a pleasant surprise. Many things were explained so the story really made sense in the end.
The writing was well done, and I enjoyed how every chapter started with Ronnie being at her martial arts class. She has an interesting hobby – unlike the usual knitting, crocheting and cooking cozy mystery heroines, which I appreciated it. Having done a bit of martial arts back in the day as a teen, the book brought some fond memories to my mind.
Overall a pleasant book with enough suspense and likeable characters to keep you going. Looking forward to the next Ronnie Lake mystery novel to come out!