Review of Bullets and Beads by Jana DeLeon

Let the good times roll? 

It’s Mardi Gras time and Fortune is looking forward to seeing the spectacle firsthand, but when a visitor to Sinful is murdered during the celebration there, Fortune, Ida Belle, and Gertie can’t help but wonder what happened. As they start looking into the woman and the family in Sinful she came to visit, their investigation sends them to New Orleans, right at the height of the Mardi Gras celebration. But instead of relaxing a little and enjoying the festivities, Fortune can’t shake the feeling that she’s being watched. 

When she catches sight of her father in the Mardi Gras crowd, she knows why.

Unfortunately, her father’s presence in Louisiana has brought with it a host of terrorists, all with only one thing in mind—locate and terminate Dwight Redding. Can Fortune, Ida Belle, and Gertie manage to evade the killers long enough to figure out why Dwight has returned from the dead? And will knowing the answer make things worse or better?

Available on Amazon.

Welcome back to Sinful, Louisiana where there’re far too many crazies and even crazier laws to cope with it all.

“We’re detectives, not gossips. I mean, at least when it comes to crime. I mean, serious crime. Not illegal booze or breaking one of Sinful’s many oddball laws like you can’t wear black ball caps in August.”

“Too many people were passing out from the heat.”

The mystery we’re set to solve this time around is who killed Katia, a friend of a fairly recent resident of Sinful, who is killed during the town’s early Mardi Gras celebrations. Very soon the suspect list, though not terribly long, creates quite an intriguing web. There’s the friend Natalia, Natalia’s husband’s job in government surveillance, the too-slick co-worker who immediately shows up to help with ‘arrangements’, links to a shady Russian company and maybe even Russian spies. Things only escalate with the Heberts show their interest in getting to the bottom of the mystery. Clues point to an incident that took place in New Orleans a few years prior so that’s where the gang heads. Just one catch, it’s Mardi Gras weekend! Things take an explosive turn when Fortune’s father and his past enter the fray.

The clues and issues related to each component are quite separate but the mix of the two elements help create more suspense and really enjoyable cozy mystery reading. I begun to suspect the truth behind some of the shenanigans but I didn’t fully piece it together until the final showdown started to play out.

I loved that this story brought in Fortune’s father. We finally get a more in-depth look into her past and her feelings really. It was annoying once again to read how she didn’t want Carter telling her what she can’t do… except that Carter tries to keep her from interfering with his job. But apparently it’s seen as parenting and Fortune’s not in the market for another one of those. My issue here is that in every single book this has to come up at least twice. I was even beginning to wonder at one point if Fortune being with Carter makes sense given the constant conflict. Then all the baggage with her father comes up. Add to that, the danger he brings with him and the task he entrusts to Fortune. This set of events put Carter and Fortune working together more than against each other.

While their relationship remains a point of contention for me, there are so many other wonderful characters I’ve become quite invested in. I wonder if Manny will really find a nice girl to settle down with… maybe one who’s quite a talented cook… I’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Next up: Ida Belle and Walter’s wedding. I’m so looking forward to that story!

Overall, Bullets and Beads is a hilarious, intriguing read made all the better by the colourful, quirky characters. I give this story 4.5/5 festive espresso shots.

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