May Day: A Cozy Mystery with a Heartfelt Hometown Vibe

4.25 out of 5 stars

Diving into May Day by Jess Lourey, narrated by Jennifer Jill Araya, felt like returning to a familiar small town, where every corner holds a memory and every face tells a story (and where everyone knows everyone’s business). Known for her more intense, often darker narratives, Lourey’s venture into the cozy mystery genre was both refreshing and delightfully engaging. This book, lighter and less foreboding than her usual fare, wraps you in the comforting embrace of a well-spun yarn.

Lourey’s skill in crafting a plot where “this town won’t solve this but I will” shines brilliantly in May Day. I think that’s sometimes my normal “issue” with cozy mysteries, but that’s also where their charm lies. Mira’s determination to unravel the mystery was portrayed with a plausibility that’s often lacking in similar stories. This believability kept me hooked, turning each page with increased anticipation, eager to see how the cleverly laid clues would unfold. It’s a testament to Lourey’s storytelling prowess that she can keep even seasoned mystery readers guessing.

Some of the scenes (I won’t spoil anything, but one of the houses she “visits” was one of the creepiest things I’ve read in a long time) were just perfect. Lourey knows how to get you wrapped up in a nice little bow and then pull the string until it comes undone. It’s so fascinating to watch her characters go through “aha!” moments only to have them come crashing down.

Jennifer Jill Araya’s narration was nothing short of charming. She captured the essence of the novel’s setting with a warmth that felt genuine, never slipping into caricature. Her voice carried the ‘hometown charm’ that perfectly complemented the story’s atmosphere, enhancing the overall experience with her clear, engaging delivery. Araya’s performance was like sitting down to coffee with an old friend who has the most enthralling tales to share.

Overall, May Day left me thoroughly satisfied, yet eager for more adventures in this quaint setting, which her books always do. I always leave them thinking “I want to read more in this world but I would NEVER want to live there”.

Jess Lourey fans will see this lighter side of her fiction but also notice that it does so without sacrificing the compelling storytelling. For newcomers, it’s an inviting gateway into her world without being as dark and gritty as some of her other stories (All of the stories I’ve read from Lourey have been great, see more here).

Book Description:

A waitress turned librarian just wants a new life. What she ends up with is a killer change of pace in a funny, snappy, and suspenseful mystery by Edgar Award-nominated author Jess Lourey.

With a cheating boyfriend, a thankless career in waitressing, and her BA in English going to waste, Mira James jumps at the chance for a fresh start in rural Battle Lake, Minnesota.

Right away she lands a job as a librarian, snags another as an on-call reporter for the weekly newspaper, and is swept off her feet by Jeff Wilson, a handsome archaeologist unearthing the town’s storied history. Moving here might be the best decision Mira’s ever made. Until she finds Jeff’s body between the library’s reference stacks. It seems Mira didn’t really know her drop-dead gorgeous new lover at all. But someone in Otter Tail County surely did.

Behind this quirky town’s polite exterior are decades-old grudges still unsettled, and murderous secrets best kept hidden. Whatever dangers are buried in Battle Lake’s past, now it’s Mira’s turn to start digging.

Revised edition: This edition of May Day includes editorial revisions.

May Day by Jess Lourey
Narrator: Jennifer Jill Araya
Length: 7 hrs and 7 mins
Series: Murder by Month Mystery #1
Published by Brilliance Audio on April 30th 2024
Format: Audiobook
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Also by this author: Unspeakable Things, Bloodline, Litani, Catch Her In A Lie
Also in this series: June Bug, Knee High by the Fourth of July

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