This is the first book I've read by this author, so I missed Stella's first adventure. I thought the author did a great job of bringing new readers up to speed, so if you're like me, you can probably jump in with this one too. Having said that, I think the first one must of been a bit more exciting, so you might want to start there anyway. This book reads like a cozy mystery, since Stella is officially an amateur, but make no mistake, it has quite a bit more language and sexual innuendos than your average cozy. It seems to straddle the middle of two genres, not exactly a cozy and not exactly a typical mystery complete with clues, violence, sex and truly nasty guys you really have to chase down. This story didn't work for me because I think I'm more used to mysteries with a bit more edge. I didn't find it compelling at all and found myself struggling to keep with it, especially during the first half of the book. There is no page turning suspense, and in fact I wasn't really that interested in finding out who did it! I needed a LOT more excitement, and a lot less repetition of Stella's philosophies of life. It seems like the author kept saying the same thing over and over, when I got it and liked it the first time.
Still, I would give this book a solid 3.5 stars, maybe even 4 just because I loved this character so much! Stella Hardesty is a middle aged woman looking out for all the women out there who are abused and taken advantage of. She's a Robin Hood in rubber clogs and the author does a great job of giving her an authentic voice filled with homespun wisdom and humor. She's a character I would love to have a drink with, and along with her partner Chrissy Shaw, they provided enough humor and charm to keep the so-so story humming along. I might even look for the next installment for this series just so I can see if Stella finally gets her man. I just hope the author let's Stella and Chrissy go a bit more next time so they can really have a good adventure. If you're looking for a cozy with a bit more grit than usual, you'll like this one OK, but if your tastes run to the edgier side of things, better pass Stella on by for now.