26 March, 2017

The Big Lead: A Stella Reynolds Mystery, Book 1 (Stella Reynolds Mystery Series) by Libby Kirsch #Review

Pages -  328
Publisher -  Sunnyside Press
Published -  October 20, 2015
Sold by -   Amazon Digital Services LLC
Genre -  Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Series -  Stella Reynolds Mysteries 1 of 3
Sexual Content -  0/5
Language -  mild
Narrative -  3rd (but its Stella's story throughout)

Her first murder case will stick with her. Closer than she ever imagined.
New TV reporter Stella Reynolds moves across the country for her chance at a dream job, and her career kicks off when she covers the town’s first murders in years.
When the prime suspect’s girlfriend enlists Stella to help clear his name, she uncovers another shocking crime that could expose a handful of powerful insiders.

Who is honest, who can’t be trusted, and who committed the murders? Stella is on a tight deadline to find out. Can she help free an innocent man, or will the real culprit get away with murder?

A relatively well-written Cozy Mystery with an underwhelming Romance slipped in (for me, I guess) that took 50 Chapters to tell.

After reading the 29 negative reviews (out of 214 total), I have to say that this particular reader NEVER came across any (or a lot of) vulgar language.

I have no idea what the reviewers are referring to as this was a pretty clean read both word and sex wise.

I did some research after reading this novel and discovered a few things.

#1 -  while this does read more like a 1980s mystery reprinted for the E-Reader, it was, indeed, first published in 2015.

#2 -  there IS cell phone and/or Wireless connection service available in Montana, including Bozeman, though it seems less reliable than in other areas of the U.S.A. (which isn't saying much).

So, Stella's arriving in Bozeman in a last-ditch effort to fulfill her career goal as a news reporter and walking into a time warp, run-down Fox News station is both interesting and yet still a tad on the unbelievable side (for me).

They use antiquated, 1980s equipment for both their reporting in the studio and out in the field.

It costs Stella a whopping $20 to fill up the news van with gas (yes, I meant fill up).

The van is equipped with a CB radio, which also tends to cut out any time the van is in motion... and the mountains are always to blame.

The houses, apartments, and businesses all use land lines with corded phones.

There are .25c pay phone booths that still work on every corner.

Stella has a penchant for choosing to wear silk tank tops with designer jeans and boots.

She also 'booked' and 'trucked' her way around the van or toward someone/something a few times (70s terminology if ever I heard any).

NONE of which bothers me, except that the author wrote the story in 2015 and never really indicated in what era Stella is living.

The author happens to be a former news anchor as well, and it is no secret that she fell back on her own experiences in Columbus, Ohio, to get these Stella mysteries written.

So, I can't help but wonder a) did she intend to make Stella her doppelganger? and b) if that's the case, why didn't she just say Bozeman, MT 1984, Chapter One ...

The spelling errors increased as the chapters continued, and I'm not sure if it was the author or her editor who wrong-ly inserted commas where they don't belong.

I'm beginning to think that too many authors truly believe it is imperative that you insert one before every, single, blasted, confounded CONJUNCTION in print.

Especially before every AND, which makes for a ton of fragmented sentences at the ends of nearly every sentence/paragraph.


IF your comma is followed by a fragment, LEAVE IT OUT and make it a complete sentence.


An incomplete sentence.

To be a sentence, groups of words need to have at least one independent clause. An independent clause is any group of words that contain both a subject and a verb and can stand on its own.

So, to insert a comma preceding AND in the following sentence is wrong:

Daisy wound her way through the crowded streets on 5th Avenue, and never bumped anyone.

And never bumped anyone / Never bumped anyone -- are incomplete thoughts -- no comma necessary.


The story bogged down in the middle until I began contemplating a DNF but kept telling myself no, even if you DO know who the culprit is, keep reading just to be sure.

The author gave it away too soon (for me, anyway) but I kept an objective eye on more clues that ended up not steering me in another direction.

I knew whodunit as soon as that chapter ended and was right when the case was finally cracked.

(see, no comma necessary because 'was right when...' isn't a complete thought).

That isn't to say this wasn't an interesting story because in some ways it was.

I liked Stella but never quite figured out how old she really was, what she really looked like (other than everyone saying how beautiful she looked), or much else about her personality besides her determination to plod through this 1-year contract in nowhere's ville and then strike out (again) in a bigger pond.

The romance I mentioned above seemed out of place in this novel but I could also understand why the author chose to insert it.

It did make for added interest, but since it didn't go anywhere or really do anything besides linger in the "He's really gorgeous" and "She's really hot" departments, I wasn't all that impressed.

This is the first 'Cozy' mystery I've read clean through, so there is that.

I've got quite a few on my Kindle and have tried to read several but always stop after a chapter or two because of dry writing, disinterest, or bad grammar/spelling issues.

At least it wasn't filled with a lot of Baking nonsense and Dogs or Cats.

I think the author has talent but needs to find a better Editor because, as mentioned, the 'Take A Look Inside' part was pristine and then it got worse and worse as the story unfolded.

If you like Chick Lit and Cozy Mystery that isn't format-written or filled with a lot of middle-aged lady nonsense, you'll probably enjoy the Stella Reynolds Mystery series.

At the end of the novel, the author offered the second in the series for free via Mail Chimp, but it never arrived in my in-box. 😞

I'm interested in the story, but mainly because Stella is on a new case and chasing after a new man!


She and John get together at the end of this first novel (not a spoiler) so I'm overly curious to find out what happens to break them apart.

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