Death by Committee

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

When I'm starting a new series, the usual fare of cozy mystery protagonists are those who are starting over again because of a horrible event that happened in the past. Sometimes, I get too distracted with the details of their "past life", and so I would have doubts on whether to continue the first book or not. I am kind of wary of the series when I start reading the first chapter and then I am suddenly presented with a ton of details that I would rather have given to me little by little throughout the entire book, or even throughout the series. I am also concerned about how the cozy heroine is presented, because I would be seeing the series through the perspective of the heroine. 

With Death by Committee, I have to admit that in the first few chapters, there were certain details that I would have preferred to be mentioned in later chapters. I also was a little bit leery of who the real perpetrator was eventually, and the motive that was behind the murder. But I liked how Abby immediately found the body and went head on with the investigation, because it was her beloved aunt's reputation and innocence on the line. I also liked how the details on the other characters are slowly given to the reader - casually mentioned or given as a major part of the plot - so it was not distracting from the major characters and the solving of the murder.

I am also looking forward to the next book because it seems like that Abby, who's in Snowberry Creek to take care of her deceased aunt's estate, is going to stay even longer and gets involved even more with the town's activities. I also want to see how her blossoming romance would end up (she deserves it!).
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This is a great start to a new cozy mystery series. Abby McCree is settling into her new life in the small town of Snowberry Creek. She has inherited a rundown estate from her late Aunt Sybil, who she spend many happy summers with when she was quite young. Abby doesn't have much time to get used to her new home, or figure out what she needs to do first, because her aunt's friends have offered up Abby's services to all the committees Aunt Sybil was involved in. She finds herself taking over the local quilting guild, serving on the city’s Senior Affairs group, and planning fundraising garage sales. When Tripp, her tenant and yard man, discovers a body buried in her backyard, it turns out to be Aunt Sybil's rival in town who everyone assumed was down south for the winter. Aunt Sybil is the main suspect, and even though she is deceased, Abby wants to make sure her aunt's name and reputation are not tarnished. Will her investigation and questions put her in danger?

Author Alexis Morgan has written a fun story with a great plot. Abby's investigation moves slowly and builds the tension until the explosive ending. The characters in the book are relatively well developed for the first book in the series. Abby is strong, intelligent and determined in her quest. She doesn't rush headlong into things, but proceeds slowly, uncovering information along the way. This does not mean the story is boring, though. The quilters are fun. There are some quirky characters, but they are not dowdy, these women are quick and smart as well. And then there is Tripp. He is a veteran who lives in the small cottage on the property. He had agreed to help Sybil out with yard work and maintenance in return for lower rent. The quilters love to have an excuse to watch him work on a hot day. He helps keep Abby safe and perhaps will become a love interest for her as the series goes on. There are a few suspects to the murder as well as some not very nice characters in the story which all add to the well-plotted and well-paced story. There are a couple of red herrings and some twists that kept me guessing. I thought I had it all figured out, but there were a few things, such as motive, that were revealed at the end. Overall, a very satisfying story and a good start to a new series. I am looking forward to seeing what is next for Abby, Tripp and the Quilters.
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Such fun! It was light and quick. I enjoyed meeting the characters. I look forward to the next installment.
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First in a new series set in the lovely Pacific Northwest, although you don't really get a feel for it. Is the town inland or on the coast, or did I miss its location?

In the first couple of sentences, we are introduced to the love interest in the form of 'ripped' military vet, Tripp Blackston, Abby's tenant and on-site handyman, who is mowing the lawn and the focus of Abby's guests' attention. Her recently-passed Aunt Sybil had made arrangements for Tripp to stay in the mother-in-law cottage on the grounds with reduced (?) rent in exchange for maintenance, yard work, etc. So when Abby inherits her aunt's house and dog, Zeke, she also 'inherits' Tripp. She is drawn into a murder investigation when she and Tripp, tidying a corner of the garden, uncover the body of her aunt's 'rival', Dolly Cayhill, wrapped in her aunt's quilt and stuffed under the blackberry bushes. What a welcome!

There was some quilting information, as Abby and her (older lady) friends belong to a quilting guild and quilts feature in the two mysteries in this book. One, her aunt's dead friend and, two, a dozen missing quilts the ladies had handed over to a previous member who was going to photograph them for a calendar. But that lady apparently disappeared with a lover and took the quilts with her, leaving a devastated husband behind.

Unfortunately, the murderer is pretty obvious from the first instance and I found myself reading to discover the motive because a lot of the story is around the relationship between Tripp and Abby (the author apparently is quite prolific in the romance genre). And possibly a love triangle with Gage, the sheriff...?

Anyway, I enjoyed it well enough, although it did take me several days to get through it. I'd like to read the second in the series to see if it broadens the characters a bit. I liked Gage and Zeke more than the MC and Tripp if I'm honest, they were more fully written I felt. A series I would recommend, however.
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Great start to a new series!!

After a rough divorce, Abby McCree moves to small town Snowberry Creek to tie up loose ends after her elderly Aunt Sybil passes away.  Abby inherits a rundown estate, that comes with a slobbery Mastiff and a sexy tenant who handles the maintenance of the place (mostly shirtless).  Abby gets drawn into Sybil's tight-knit quilting guild as well as many getting suckered into the community board and fundraisers.  Upon trying to clean up the yard of the estate, Abby and Tripp make a gruesome discovery—Aunt Sybil’s only known rival is buried in her backyard!  
With Late Aunt Sybil being the primary suspect, Abby is set out to find the real killer.  As the suspect list piles up, so does the threats Abby begins facing.  Can she figure out the killer before she becomes the victim?  

I loved the character development in this series.  I am not usually fond of romance but I love the light heat between Abby and Tripp.  Also, finally in a cozy mystery series, there is a member of law enforcement that is not mean and not out to get the amateur sleuth.  

I went into this book with no expectations, as I received an ARC from NetGalley, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I am highly anticipating book 2, Death by Jack-o’-Lantern, which release is August 2019.  I also added the audio version to pair with the digital.  The narrator, Colleen Marlo, was quite enjoyable.  Highly recommend both.
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"Tell me, Miss McCree, do you have any idea how your aunt's archrival, Dolly Cahill, came to be buried in your backyard, wrapped in one of Sybil's quilts?

Death by Committee by Alexis Morgan is the first book in the Abby McCree cozy mystery series. We are introduced to Abby who has inherited her favourite aunt Sybil's home and responsibilities in the small town of Snowberry Creek along with handsome, moody former war veteran and tenant, Tripp Blackston. Abby chances upon the dead body buried in her backyard and later learns that the body was a nemesis to her late aunt. 
With little faith in the police and a lot of sleuthing, Abby takes it upon herself to uncover the killer, especially since it also means clearing her aunt Sybil's name. 

Death by Committee has a second mystery within, that of the 12 missing quilts that the town's Quilting Guild had planned to use to bring in donations. While I enjoyed reading this, I felt that this secondary mystery took more focus than the original mystery. 

"Snowberry Creek was a pretty town with lots of nice people living in it. But [Abby] shivered as she passed each neat and tidy house, because, despite the warmth of the sun overhead, she had to wonder which one sheltered a cold-blood killer."

I enjoyed Abby's reflections on who might have wanted to kill Dolly. Her interactions are realistic and humourous. She's an overall relatable character and so is her moody tenant and often saviour Tripp. I would like to see more of them in coming books. 

One of my favourite characters in Death by Committee is Zeke, Abby's massive grey Mastiff, which she also inherited from her aunt Sybil. Zeke has a presence and character of his own in the novel. Though he cares for Abby and constantly ensures her safety, he is often seen wavering between who he'd like to spend time with, Abby or Tripp. Their dog walks become excellent excuses for Abby to explore possible suspects.

"Abby felt like she should be earning frequent flier miles with the Snowberry Creek Police Department."

One of the things that bothered in Death by Committee, however, was the repetition of events. Something would happen with Abby and the town's sheriff Gage would question her about it. Instead of re-mentioning it briefly or saying something like "Abby relayed the events as they happened", she would repeat everything exactly. Personally, I felt it this was redundant and just added pages and word count. 

Having said that, I still enjoyed Death by Committee by Alexis Morgan. It's a good start to a fun series with loveable characters.

The link below also includes an exclusive interview with Alexis Morgan
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Death by Committee is a new cute cozy mystery series. I can't wait for the next in the series. The characters are well written and I enjoyed the plot.
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My rating: 3 of 5 stars, I liked it.

Book 1 in the series.

I like the main character, Abbey, she's resilient, smart and empathetic. And I adore Zeke, the mastiff she inherits along with a house. Not sure how I feel about her love interest, Tripp. He comes off as a bit bossy, which annoyed me. And something I am seeing lately, the mystery takes a back seat to their budding romance and all the other things/people in the story. That said, I try to give first books a bit of a break, since the author is trying to introduce us to everyone. This was enjoyable enough, and a nice, light, quick read.

I look forward to more of Abbey and Zeke in book 2.
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This turned out to be a very good first book in a new series. It starts with things already underway, avoiding a lot of the moving back home angst. Abby is already living in her late Aunt Sybil's home, going through everything, taking care of what is now her new dog Zeke and getting to know Sybil's group of friends--from quilters to neighborhood do gooders. It was convenient to already have a handyman onsite--Aunt Sybil had an agreement with Tripp to do work around the place in exchange for a place to live and Abby soon takes on committee roles temporarily as well for the town of Snowberry Creek. When the only person in town who could possibly be called Sybil's nemesis is found buried in the backyard in a quilt, both Abby and the ladies of the quilting guild want to find out what really happened. There were some parts of the storyline that seemed to run almost parallel to each other, but I really liked how all the pieces came together in the end. It was a very solid read and kept my interest the whole time
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This was a great start to a fun new cozy series! I read a lot of cozy mysteries and this was truly one of the best I have found. It starts off well and had me involved in the story early on. The goats being hired to clear a bramble patch was new to me and a fun element especially how it plays in to a body being discovered. That was an unusual and memorable way for a body to be found. There was quite a bit of humor and sarcasm in the book which I liked a lot(I speak fluent sarcasm!). Tripp was probably my favorite character in the book. I like Abby as well but she did kind of annoy me a couple of times. The culprit was fairly obvious(to me anyways) but the story still kept me engaged and wanting to find out for sure if I was right. All in all, a solid debut for this new series, which I recently learned has a predecessor fiction series I will be investigating soon! Looking forward to book two releasing later this year!!


I received this book from NetGalley and was not required to post a positive review. All thoughts above are my honest opinion.
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Death by Committee is a cozy mystery that emphasizes romance and quilting more than sleuthing.

Abby’s recently deceased elderly Aunt Sybil left her a house. Abby hires several goats to eat some overgrown foliage in the backyard. One goat uncovers Dolly, Sybil’s rival, who is buried in the backyard in Sybil’s quilt. When the town, including the police chief, rush to assume Sybil is a murderer, Abby vows to clear her Aunt’s name. Luckily, she will have the help of her boarder, the hunky Tripp.

I enjoyed the relationship between Abby and Tripp. They both seemed genuine. The mystery within Death by Committee was a bit too easy to solve making this book a better choice for romance fans. 3 stars.

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Divorcee Abby McCree is ready to start living again after a messy divorce. Sadly, her aunt passes away leaving her estate in Snowberry Creek, Washington to Abby. The estate isn’t in the best shape and even comes with an affectionate dog. Unfortunately for Abby, she must deal with her aunt’s unfinished busness. She’s immediately put in charge of her aunt’s committee, hosts her aunt’s quilting guild, and has to host a huge garage sale fundraiser for them. Oh, did I mention that the estate also comes with a handsome tenant?

To make matters even more crazy, a dead body is found buried in her aunt’s backyard. The body happens to be her aunt’s archrival and is wrapped in her aunt’s quilt. The police immediately place Abby’s aunt at the top of the suspect list. The citizens in the small town of Snowberry Creek readily jump to the same conclusion. Abby is met with some really nasty accusations as the town shuns her for what they think her aunt did.

Abby is determined to clear her aunt’s name and her own, by association, as well. Against the warnings of the local police, Abby and her new dog do their own investigating. They begin to realize there is more going on in this small town than she ever realized.

This is the first book in a new series. I never read anything by this author before, but she crafted an intriguing, quaint, cozy mystery that grabbed my attention right away. 

We have a story with a little bit of romance sprinkled through the mystery. The mystery side of the story takes precedence which is exactly how I like my cozy mysteries. The story moved along at a nice, steady pace. The characters were well portrayed and lively.

There were several suspects with many twists and turns. I did have my suspicions of “whodunit” half way through, but the journey to discover the hows and whys of the murder were intriguing. 

This series is off to a good start and I’ll definitely be back for the next book.
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I received this ARC via Netgalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.  I liked this cosy and found it a good start to a new mystery series by Ms. Morgan.  Abby inherits a run-down house, complete with large dog, upon the death of her Aunt Sybil.  Interesting, the house also comes with a handsome tenant and the town has a another good-looking character in the form of the local law enforcement.  Since Abby's just out of a divorce, she's more interested in figuring out who killed the person in her bushes and why the body was wrapped in a distinctive quilt.  Add in a group of older ladies on the local quilting committee, the mysterious disappearance of a local woman and several committee quilts, plus Abby agreeing to serve on several town committees - whew, there's a lot going on here.  The author does a good job of writing clear characters so it's easy to keep track of them and who is/does what (a personal pet peeve when its not done well so I like to point out when it is done correctly).  I look forward to reading more stories about this setting, heroine and her new town.
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I was captivated by this book from the very beginning. Abby is a fun character and this story hooked me and kept me guessing until the end.  I liked Abby's determination to clear her aunt's name and the support she got from her friends.  I look forward to reading more in this series.
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Death by Committee

by Alexis Morgan

Looking for an exciting cozy mystery? Death by Committee has more action than is normally found in a cozy mystery. It is for sure a page turner.

Death by Committee by Alexis Morgan features likable characters with some depth to them that makes you want to get to know them even better. Its setup has potential for lots of variety in future stories. Main character Abby McCree, recently divorced, inherits her aunt’s house in a small town. She finds herself landlady to Tripp, a handsome veteran who lives in a cottage on her property. Abby has plenty to do sorting through her aunt’s possessions, but Aunt Sibyl’s elderly friends expect her to step into her aunt’s shoes as head of the quilting guild and as a civic leader.

A body is found buried on Abby’s property wrapped in a quilt. This gruesome discovery leads to her informal and unsanctioned investigation to clear her aunt’s name, but there is more intrigue to follow. A side mystery involves the disappearance of thirteen quilts. The quilts are valuable, but are they worth the penalties for theft? 

My favorite character is the huge, slobbery Zeke: a mastiff cross who is Abby’s best buddy and defender. He is a constant throughout the story providing interest and humor. Zeke adores both Tripp and Abby (and treats) as much as the pair loves him. The book is filled with humorous repartee as Tripp and Abby struggle to understand each other, and fireworks of various kinds fly.

I did figure out before the reveal who the murderer is, but not the motive. I think this was intentional, making the final scenes even more dramatic. Abby put herself in danger sometimes through her own actions, but it does make for an exciting story. I am looking forward to the next book in the series. This one did not change my world, but it is a lot of fun, and it left me with a satisfied smile and wanting more.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #1 in the Abby McCree Mystery Series
	  2. The cute cover doesn’t depict what actually happened in the book.

Publication:   January 29, 2019—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

If she didn’t know what a sweetheart he was, she might have been just as leery of a dog of his size, too. The truth was, the only real threat the bighearted fellow presented to the world was his ability to produce an excessive amount of drool, which often left behind an icky trail of mastiff goo wherever he went.

The day hadn’t gone well at all, and her reward was a crushing headache. For now, she wasn’t going to think about anything more complicated than what flavor of tea would go best with ibuprofen.

“Don’t worry. We’re fine, boy. Just out for a drive.” Okay, that was a lie, and not even the dog was buying what she was selling.
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One of the best first books in a new series I have read in awhile. The characters are so vivid and well written. The mystery was interesting and had me guessing until the very end. I can't wait to see where this series goes.
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Death by Committee
By Alexis Morgan
Kensington
February 2019

Review by Cynthia Chow

After ending a marriage that proved to be more successful as a business partnership than a personal relationship, Abby McCree moved into her late Aunt Sybil’s home in Snowberry Creek, Washington.  Abby inherits more than just a sporadically-maintained estate though, as she finds herself now saddled with an exuberant mastiff mix dog, a cranky but hunky tenant, and more than one position on a town committee.  There’s soon one more committee vacancy available though, as when rented goats clear out overgrown blackberry thorns they discover the body of snowbird resident Dolly Cayhill wrapped in a quilt.  Known as Sybil’s archrival since childhood, gossip and the women’s very public last argument have Abby’s aunt as the primary suspect.  Unable to allow her beloved aunt’s reputation be sullied – and feeling guilty for the moment of suspicion she felt herself – Abby begins to investigate whom the perfectionist Dolly may have irritated to the point of murder.

It’s not as though Abby doesn’t have a lot already on her plate, as she soon finds herself chairing the Committee on Senior Affairs, hosting the garage sale benefiting the quilting club, and manning a table for the town’s cleanup day.  What’s so refreshing is that while chief of police Gage Logan decidedly does not want Abby sticking her nose in his investigation, it’s not out of egotistical territorialism or arrogance.  Gage is genuinely concerned about Abby’s welfare, as is military veteran Tripp Blackston, whose shirtless gardening attracts the attention of more than one member of the senior affairs committee.  The new college student balances studying with protecting his landlord from a sundry of threats and attacks, with mastiff Zeke doing more than his share of guard duty.

This first in a series introduces an undeniably likable and entertaining heroine, one who never allows her pursuit of justice to outweigh her common sense.  Abby is reluctant to place another suspect in the line of fire of police without proof to clear her aunt’s reputation, as in addition to being unable to say “no” to committee requests Abby’s also unwilling to make an unfounded accusation.  Abby came to Snowberry Creek in search of a new direction for her life, and she seems to be finding it in the tiny town of nosy neighbors who ultimately unite for local causes.  Abby is a vastly entertaining character whose intelligence makes her a capable and worthy investigator, and it’s impossible to resist a woman whose greeting to the crack of dawn morning is, “Screw you, Day.”  A morning person she is not.  The mystery plot is intricate and leads in an unexpected directions, with quilting, land development and crab dip all playing a role.  This is a fun start of a series that promises even more romance and humor for Abby’s next adventure.
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Recently divorced, Abby  is starting over in a new place. Before she has finished setting into the house she inherited from her aunt, a body is found on the property.   She has also inherited a large, loveable, and fiercely  protective dog – Zeke – and a fine looking tenant, Tripp.  So fine that the elderly ladies of the quilting guild practically drool when committee meetings are held at the house. But Abby’s not looking for romance – she’s busy serving on committees,  hunting down missing quilts, and attempting to find a murderer.  The plot itself was interesting, with a few twists along the way.  An enjoyable read with a well developed plot, this is a nice start to a cute new cozy series. I look forward to reading more about Abby and Tripp in the future.   Although the quilting guild plays a key role in the story, this non-quilter was glad to see that the author didn’t go into unnecessary detail about the craft itself – meaning this light cozy can be enjoyed by non-quilters and quilters alike.
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Dollycas’s Thoughts

Abby McCree hasn’t spent much time in Snowberry Creek, Washington of late but she remembers all the good times she had with her Aunt Sybil as a child. She especially remembers a quilt they were working on. Aunt Sybil finished it by herself as Abby’s visits became shorter and less frequent. Now her aunt has passed away and left her home to Abby and her aunt’s friends have already volunteered her to take over some of the committees Sybil was leading including the quilting guild.

Her aunt also left her a couple of other surprises. a bull mastiff named Zeke and a cantankerous but very easy on the eyes tenant named Tripp Blackston. Abby also uncovers another surprise among the blueberries, Dolly Cayhill’s body. Dolly was a snowbird who usually takes flight during the winter months, so sadly no one even knew the woman was unaccounted for. Dolly and Sybil were rivals in almost everything they did. Finding her body in Sybil’s yard wrapped in one of Sybil’s quilts lands Sybil square at the top of the suspect list. Abby believes there is no way her aunt could have committed such a heinous crime but the rumors are flying and evidence is stacking up. Is there any way to clear her aunt’s good name? There may be if she can live long enough to stitch all the clues together.

I like Abby McCree, but she needs to learn to say no! Those elderly ladies really ran roughshod over her. By the end of the story, she was getting her bearings and getting stronger, which I was very happy to see. Those ladies reminded me so much of some of the older ladies I have known in my life. A little pushy, but with huge hearts and kind souls. Tripp Blackstone, on the other hand, was a tough nut to crack, ex-military tough, and a little closed off. He starts to soften as he finds himself in the role of protector to Abby as digs into Dolly’s death and right into the line of fire. Tripp and Abby grow a lot for this being the first book in the series. I liked the way the author has started them on their journey. My favorite character of all was Zeke. A big dog who is a gentle giant, at least most of the time. The only time he leaves Abby’s side is when he is with Tripp. He is truly my kind of canine, even with all the drool 🙂

The plot was complex with two real mysteries. The first, the murder, had its share of suspects, but one after another are eliminated and Abby becomes a target. The second deals with 13 missing quilts the quilt had hoped to use for a calendar fundraiser. Given to a new member to photograph who then abruptly leaves town without returning the quilts or the pictures to the guild. As the new president of the guild, Abby tries her best to locate them. I used to love to quilt so this subplot really interested me.  The two mysteries mesh together so well. The story had some really exciting events and I was on the edge of my seat for the nail-biting ending.

Ms. Morgan has taken the time to fully describe each person and place so clearly that I could picture every element of the story. The people came alive. Abby’s home, the yard, the garage, and all the places around town were easily pictured in my mind. I was in each moment right along with Abby.

What I love most about this story was that it is written for the long haul of a series. The main characters evolved a great deal in this book but there is still so much to know about them. I am definitely invested in their lives and want to know more about them. The secondary characters are fun and entertaining too and have plenty of room to grow.

Ms. Morgan has sewn together a wonderful treat for her readers. Death by Committee was a perfect escape for me and I know fans of this genre will enjoy it too!
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This was a fabulous start to a new cozy mystery series. The main character was interesting and likeable. The mystery was well done with one minor issue – I figured out what had happened pretty early on and I felt like the main character should have figured it out early as well! Other than that though I really loved it. I felt like the supporting characters were quirky and fun. I am looking forward to the second book in the series!
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