It’s my stop today on the blog tour for Murder Up To Bat by Elizabeth McKenna. Many thanks to Lori Caswell of Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for giving me an opportunity to be a part of this blog tour.
Title: Murder Up To Bat (A Front Page Mystery #2)
Author: Elizabeth McKenna
Published on: 18 August 2022
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Murder Up To Bat is the second book in Elizabeth McKenna’s Front Page Mystery series.
After falling in love with the quiet lake life and a certain police detective, former Chicago Tribune reporter Emma Moore trades interviewing jocks for chasing champion cows at the country fair. Her best friend Grace is in town for a vacation. Luke, a local gym owner and Emma’s friend, gets into a verbal spat with the head coach of the local softball team.
The coach’s daughter Jenna has injured her ankle. Luke does not want her to play in the upcoming tournament and risk a lifelong injury. But Jenna’s dad, Coach Brian, tells Luke she will be playing as many scouts from well-known universities will be attending the tournament. Both men start to fight and things escalate. Ryan, local detective and Emma’s boyfriend, has to barge in and stop the two men from fighting.
The next morning, Ryan and Emma reach the gym for their usual session. Emma hears Ryan speak to someone in his ‘detective voice.’ When she enters the men’s room, she finds Luke holding a bloody baseball bat. There’s someone lying on the floor in a pool of blood… It’s Coach B!
Since Ryan and Luke are friends, he’s not allowed to investigate. Instead, a local detective from Lake Geneva, Detective White, takes over the case. Luke is arrested for the crime… the crime he did not commit. With Ryan’s hands tied, it is up to Emma and Grace to prove Luke’s innocence.
I read the first book of this series – The Great Jewel Robbery – a couple of years ago and I was very excited to learn the next book is out. I had loved the series debut and was looking forward to knowing what’s next for reporter-turned-amateur-sleuth Emma Moore.
The story begins with Emma wanting to click Peggy Sue’s picture. But Peppy Sue is up to her fame-induced-attitude-ish self. She’s kicked by the runner-up and the chase begins. Um, Peppy Sue is a prize-winning cow. 😉
In the skirmish involving two bovines, Emma falls on her bum and ends up with a brownish stain on her trousers. Eww! Grace comes to her rescue. When they walk out of the barn, they see Ryan. Emma left her job at the Chicago Tribune to settle in Lake Geneva for two reasons – small town and handsome local detective (who’s now her boyfriend). Emma works as a reporter for the local newspaper now and Peggy Sue is what brought her to the country fair.
That same evening, Ryan, Luke, Grace and Emma meet for dinner. At the fro-yo cart, Luke meets Coach Brian, the head coach of local softball team. When he sees the coach’s daughter with her injured ankle, he advises her not to play in the upcoming tournament. But Coach B responds rudely and both men start fighting. The verbal spat almost turns physical, thanks to Ryan for barging in and stopping them.
The next morning, Luke is found holding a bloody bat in his hand and Coach B is lying on the floor in the gym’s men’s room. Luke is arrested for killing Coach B. But he claims innocence. With evidence pointing towards him – eye witness incidents of the fight from previous night, it is pretty clear that Luke is going to spend a long time behind bars. But Emma does not want her friend to be accused of a crime he did not commit.
As she and Grace start to investigate, they unravel a lot of secrets – from extra-marital affairs to dangerous competition. Emma gets a first hand experience of how competitive games can get – and how far parents can go to ensure their kid gets picked up by the best university.
I am not a sports person – I do not follow nor play. But I have read of incidents where people would go to any extent to remove competition. In this book, we are given a detailed description of one such incident – gosh, this is something like ‘survival of the fittest’! Or, should I say, the most cunning person wins the prize?
I really loved the character portrayal. Emma is an excellent sleuth, amateur or not. Most of her sleuthing happens at the game – all she has to do is blend in and keep an ear open for hot gossip. Hopefully, one or two of which might lead her to Coach B’s real killer. When Ryan refuses to involve himself in the case, it creates tension in their (Emma and Ryan’s) relationship. Meanwhile, Grace likes Luke and would go to any extent to help him out. It was quite sweet to see her at Luke’s side at all times.
The mystery behind Coach B’s murder gets murky when certain details of his personal life comes into picture. There’s also some gossip about one of the moms and her string of affairs. Then there is jealousy – not amongst the girls playing the tournament, but amongst their parents. Each parent wants their kid to be selected for sports scholarship. Did this have something to do with the murder?
I absolutely loved Elizabeth McKenna’s storytelling. The characters are likeable and the murder mystery kept me guessing till the end. The identity of the killer was a huge surprise. The events that lead to Emma catching them red-handed was interesting – it’s not until the end that Emma connects the dots.
I enjoyed reading every bit of this book. If you are looking for an entertaining, enjoyable and unique cozy mystery, I highly recommend you to give Murder Up To Bat by Elizabeth McKenna a try.
There’s a Giveaway for this tour. Details are here.
Thank you for reviewing my cozy mystery. I’m so glad you liked it!