Live and Let Fry by Sue Williams
Honestly, how I’m expected to go past a title with a pun like this is beyond me. In the third book starring small-town fish-and-chip-shop-owner-and-also-detective-but-not-officially Cass Tuplin (the first one: Murder with the Lot), Cass is accosted one day by fellow resident and ex-let’s-not-mention-it Vern, who’s got a new girlfriend, Joanne.
Vern’s worried, because someone’s left some dead rats with their tails hacked off on her doorstep, but he can’t go to the police, since Joanne’s not keen on them. Cass is not thrilled, since ‘the police’ in this case refers to her oldest and sulkiest son, Dean, and Dean’s already annoyed that his mother keeps solving problems in town – but she helps anyway, because that’s what she does. And then suddenly there’s a hitman (in a bookshop, HOW VERY DARE THEY), arson, murder, breakups, another private detective, environmental agencies, old men in retirement homes with semi-relevant pieces of information, land deals, secretive family members, and worst of all, no one around to take it out on since her beloved Leo is off saving the world in Bolivia instead of appreciating all Cass does to save the 147 residents of Rusty Bore and everyone else in regional Victoria who can’t just bloody well keep themselves together.
For the more suburban readers like Your Friendly Reviewer, this book is like going to visit your regional relatives and having a bunch of their friends pop by for a chat. It’s comforting, slightly dishevelled, wildly entertaining, and involves far too many people; when you leave, you’re filled right up, feel a bit like you’ve fallen out of a storm – and you can’t wait to return. Cass is a ball, barrelling around making wisely terrible decisions, and surrounding herself with endearing characters, like her adult sons on their opposing sides of the law yet both needing support; the inhabitants of Rusty Bore and their regular orders and gossipy ways; and the many people she coerces into conversation.
Live and Let Fry is self-aware, observant, and with a fresh take on a crime hero, this is as irresistible as potato cakes after a swim.