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Fair Trade by Heather Day Gilbert

Title: Fair Trade (A Barks and Beans Cafe Cozy Mystery #3)

Author: Heather Day Gilbert

Published on: 27th October 2020

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Heather Day Gilbert is back with the third installment of Barks and Beans Café mystery series. This time, Macy and Bo Hatfield, siblings and co-owners of Barks and Beans Café are in for a huge surprise.

Macy’s childhood friend Carolina is now a famous country singer. Caro is in town, performing at the fair. Macy and Caro catch up over dinner and Macy has an odd feeling Caro’s band members are a little off. The same night, Caro calls Macy to say she’s at the hospital with a bout of food poisoning. Macy doubts if someone is trying to kill Carolina. Soon, another attempt is made to put Caro off track – temporarily or for good – Macy is pretty sure her friend’s life is in danger.

A dog petting themed cafe? Count me in! Macy runs the Barks side of the cafe. Thanks to the help of a local pet shelter owner, Summer, Macy has her hands full with loads of furry friends. Some of these shelter dogs have also been adopted by a few cafe visitors.

Bo, Macy’s brother, is an ex-DEA agent. His work at the coffee board was just a front for the undercover work he did. When one of the goons decided to wreck Bo’s life, he moved back to his hometown in West Virginia and opened a cafe.

In Fair Trade, we see Macy’s excited to meet her childhood friend Carolina. Caro is now the lead singer of a famous country band named Carolina Crush. Macy is introduced to the band members – Gage, Reya and Tony(Caro’s husband). Macy gets a weird vibe from each of them – Reya is trying to steal the spotlight from Caro, Gage seems to be in his world and Tony is a gambler.

Soon, Caro falls victim to food poisoning. Macy learns someone deliberately tried to poison Caro. As the story proceeds, we see another attempt made on Caro’s life. Who is trying to kill Caro? Her gambling addict husband? Or a frenzy fan of the band? The suspects list is long but time’s running out. Macy has to catch the perp before they are successful in their mission.

The characters are well-portrayed. Since this is the third book in the series, the cafe helpers and Macy’s friends now play a prominent role in the story. There’s also a blast from the past – relating to Macy and Bo’s previous adventures. Oh yes, The hunka-hunka FBI agent Titan makes an appearance and so does Dylan. Dylan or Titan, who would end up as Macy’s love interest? Only time will tell.

Having seen a lot of action and adventure in the first two books, Fair Trade seemed a little low on mystery and spice. I would have loved to see more of Bo and Titan’s action in the story. Having said that, the introduction of a new character halfway through the story made me curious. This particular character is surely going to play a vital role in the future books – or so I hope.

The identity of the perp was a huge shocker. Huge, huge shock! I don’t think I would have ever guessed they were play acting all this while! Phew! The story ends with a tiny cliffhanger. Or rather, an introduction to what’s next for Macy and Bo. I read the blurb of the fourth book – Spilled Milk – I cannot wait to see how Macy would tackle what’s coming for her – one of the cafe help is a suspect, Jack(ex-husband) is back – all this while Bo’s is on a secret mission… Sounds exciting!!

The review is incomplete without the mention of Macy’s rescue dog – Coal. Coal is a Great Dane and over time, he and Macy have formed quite a bond. Not to forget, his enormous size intimidates even the worst of criminals.

Overall, Fair Trade was an entertaining and enjoyable read. If you are looking for a dog-themed cozy read, give Barks and Beans Cafe mystery series a try. You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

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