Friday Night Mystery Club Series: Book 1
Publication Date: September 18, 2021
Decatur, Illinois/1986 – A nasty divorce leaves Cragan Collins with a mountain of bills and her grandmother to support. She takes a job as an ad salesperson for The Gazette. The market is tough, but Cragan finds a mentor in business reporter, Robert Smithson. One icy January day, Robert is found dead in a city park. His murder is dismissed as gay-on-gay crime. Cragan asks The Friday Night Mystery Club to find justice for Robert. Will Cragan’s quest for the truth land her on the obituary page?
It took a bit to get started since there were several characters to sort through, and some were difficult to like. The story is set in Decatur, Illinois, in 1986 in an area that’s hurting given the times. The Friday Night Mystery Club ties the inhabitants of the four apartments together where Cragan lives. Although they are all currently single, there isn’t much else connecting the residents except their friendship and Friday night book club, where they discuss what they are all currently reading.
There’s a mystery afoot when Robert, Cragan’s best friend, is found dead in a park. The two worked together at the local newspaper, and Robert had taken Cragan under his wing. Robert was a reporter, and Cragan sold ads to local businesses.
In addition to the mystery of Robert’s death, there is also the mystery of what he was working on at the time and why his bosses at the paper are saying he wasn’t actively working on anything. Of course, Cragan knows that’s not true, especially since there are rumors galore about a potential business coming to town that would change the entire landscape.
Cragan’s an amateur sleuth and invites her friends to brainstorm with her to help solve the mysteries. She’s not only trying to solve crimes but also protect herself, her grandmother, and her friends when bad things start to happen.
There are several clues sprinkled throughout that got my adrenaline pumping. Some characters are working hard and others hardly working, businesses to run, lots of interactions with the police, more and more crimes, injuries, lies, secrets, sadness, tears, people who are not as they seem, exes, and those who want to be more. Many characters have a connection that isn’t readily obvious, but as pieces fit together, more and more are revealed.
There were many twists and turns, and it flowed smoothly once I got into the book. After the danger escalates, things fall into place. Cragan always seems to be at the right place but the wrong time. However, she eventually solves the mystery.
There is closure, loose ends are tied up, and there’s also the potential for a couple of love interests for Cragan. The story seemed to end abruptly, but I’m glad we’ll be returning to this series and hope we can pick up where we left off. I like that books themselves played an important role.
Ms. Slan has penned a fabulous start for an entertaining series with The Friday Night Mystery Club. Cragan is a plucky and determined character, and the Mystery Club adds a fun twist to amateur sleuthing!
Joanna Campbell Slan is an Award-Winning, National Bestselling, and USA Today Bestselling author. Her personal essays appear in five of the New York Times Bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and one was adapted as a television segment for the PAX TV network. Joanna has penned seven scrapbooking technique books, and she has written for Creating Keepsakes, Memory Makers, and PaperKuts magazines. Joanna has traveled around the world to teach scrapbook journaling.
Joanna has also written more than 30 works of fiction. RT Reviews has called her “one of mystery’s rising stars.” Her first mystery in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series—Paper, Scissors, Death—was shortlisted for the Agatha Award. Joanna’s series featuring Charlotte Brontë’s classic heroine Jane Eyre began with Death of a Schoolgirl, which won the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence for historical romantic suspense. As the editor and publisher of the Happy Homicides anthologies, Joanna has been on Amazon’s list of Top 100 Mystery Authors.
Joanna’s college textbook—Using Stories and Humor—has been endorsed by Benjamin Netanyahu’s speechwriter as his favorite resource and has been endorsed by Toastmasters.
The Public Relations Society of America honored Joanna with a Silver Anvil (their highest award) for her work on the first FarmAid. Joanna has been accredited by PRSA as a professional public relations practitioner. She is a certified teacher of Zentangle® and certified in Personal Profiles. Slan founded the Best of British Scrapbooking and Cardmaking contest.
In her past life, Slan was a television talk show host, an adjunct professor of public relations at Illinois State University, a sought-after motivational speaker, and a corporate speechwriter. Sharing Ideas Magazine named Joanna “one of the top 25 motivational speakers in the world.” She has spoken in Australia, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and all over the United States, to audiences of all sizes.
Joanna is married to David Slan, CEO of Steinway Piano Gallery-DC and Steinway Piano Gallery-St. Louis, and a professional poker player. The Slans have one son, Michael, and a daughter-in-law, Chelsea Edwards. They live with their Havanese puppy Jax on Jupiter Island, Florida.
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