Review: Bar owner Sherri Travis, returning late night from Miami to her home on Florida's east coast via Alligator Alley through the Everglades, stops at a "last chance" gas station to fill her tank, when a young man pleads with her to help him. Alone and confused, she refuses. He carjacks her truck anyway, leaving her stranded without money or phone, in Martini Regrets, the sixth mystery in this series by Phyllis Smallman.
Sherri turns to go back into the small convenience store adjacent to the pumps when its lights suddenly go out. Now afraid, she decides to try to make it back to the last point of civilization she remembers only to stumble on a dead body in the first building she encounters. Terrified, she continues on until she unexpectedly finds her truck in the driveway of a nearby home. Retrieving a key hidden in a case under the chassis, she drives home. Her business partner and life partner, Clay Adams, urges her to contact the police but Sherri simply wants to put the whole matter behind her. She insists she doesn't know anything anyway and that her involvement would simply confuse the police investigation. But the matter isn't behind her, when Ethan Bricklin, the richest man in Florida, walks into her bar and asks to speak to her. His brother's body was found in his orchid nursery in the Glades, burned to the ground, and he understands she knows something about it.
The opening gambit takes up nearly the first quarter of the book, and it's a thrilling one. But then the storyline abruptly shifts gears to one of a missing orchid. Ethan Bricklin doesn't seem nearly as interested in finding his brother's killer as he is finding a rare orchid that his brother is rumored to have bred. Ethan thinks Sherri has it. Indeed, a small number of wealthy Floridians with a passion for orchids think Sherri has it. Or if not, knows where it is, and are willing to pay a small fortune to get their hands on it. Sherri wants nothing to do with any of them, but Clay sees potential clients for his real estate business and encourages her to play nice. The plot unfolds in a credible manner, culminating in a terrifying encounter on a small gulf island where Sherri and Clay are spending the night. The author does tension and suspense very well here, and despite Sherri's near constant activity, the time spent between the opening and closing scenes feels too long with not much going on. Overall, a solid effort but one that could have used a little more punch midway through.
Acknowledgment: the author provided an eARC of Martini Regrets for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Champagne for Buzzards
McArthur & Company (Trade Paperback), September 2011
ISBN-13: 9781552789124; ISBN-10: 1552789128
Location(s) referenced in Martini Regrets: Florida
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Martini Regrets by Phyllis Smallman — A Sherri Travis Mystery
Publisher: TouchWood Editions
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: September 2014
List Price: $14.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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