A cozy mystery in a unique setting is what you'll find in Downsized to Death by Patricia Gulley.
When branch manager, Prudence Peters learns the national travel agency where she works is downsizing and she is demoted, you would think that's all the bad news she has to contend with. Put in the position of watching helplessly while news of closing branches circulates, and desperately trying to make sure her branch isn't one of them, Pru also has to worry about vying for her former job against a slew of others. As if matters couldn't get any worse, her former boss, Claudia, turns up dead, and one of Pru's employees, who is now missing, is the prime suspect. Can Pru save her job, the branch, and find a killer?
I enjoyed reading Downsized to Death by Patricia Gulley. It has the classic elements of a cozy mystery: an amateur sleuth caught up in events beyond her control and now put on track to solve the crime, an interesting setting, and lots of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing who the culprit is.
I have to admit, though, I felt a tiny bit was missing from this one. While typically amateur sleuths are not gung ho about getting involved in solving a crime, Pru makes it her job to try to avoid getting caught up in solving the murder. Actually, the only thing she really wants to do is find her missing employee, which will hopefully clear that person's name. It's an honorable goal, but when amateur sleuths decide to get involved, they usually do it; they don't spend most of their time trying to avoid it. In addition, while Pru's desire is to find the missing employee, she doesn't do a lot of things one would expect if you're trying to locate someone. Yes, she contacts the suspect's mother, but other than that, she doesn't spend a lot of time canvassing the neighborhood or the employee's favorite haunts, trying to figure out where this person went. Her investigation mostly focuses around the people this person worked with and the argument that ensued between this person and Claudia.
There's also a hint of a potential romance between Pru and the lead detective on the case, but then something is revealed about Jake LaFoure that makes you wonder if he's available. I'm not sure why this would be developed if Jake is not on the list of future hot dates.
Despite these areas, I read through Downsized to Death quickly and wouldn't mind reading it again. It had enough of what a cozy mystery should be to keep me turning the pages, and I polished the book off in less than three days.
It looks like the author might be developing a series with Pru as the lead character. If Gulley decides to write another Travel Agent Mystery--which I hope she does--I'm sure the books will only improve.
If you enjoy cozies, this one would be a fun vacation time read.
Title: Downsized to Death Author: Patricia Gulley Publisher: Wings ePress, Inc. ISBN-10: 1-59705-757-6 ISBN-13: 978-1-59705-757-8 SRP: $16.95