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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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3.9 out of 5
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  • Prepare to suspend your disbelief

    I almost never give negative reviews, but I was so upset by this book, that I feel I have to prepare you for the content. Then you can make your own decision. I cannot give this book a good review or recommend it. The further I read, the more unbelievably unrealistic this got. The premise would be fine if it were not the bride looking for the missing groom who has presumably met with foul play based on the evidence.. I read a different book where the groom is murdered on the wedding day., but it certainly wasn't the bride investigating! She was a wreck! I loved that book because someone else was the sleuth. As a widow, I know that even if I'd been married even for only a few hours (and I found a smashed phone, bloody rock, boutonniere leading me to suspect foul play), I (would) have been a wreck! I'd have called 911...not taken the phone (even if I were going to give it to the police) or disturbed evidence. The day after the wedding, the bride is at Starbucks with her best friend (they stop on the way to the police station) and they're discussing the friend's lip gloss brand. Within a matter of days, the bride is at a party with "gorgeous" men. Like she literally bumps into a guy and thinks wow, he's gorgeous. The book just gave me an uncomfortable feeling because the bride's actions do not reflect reality. So, if you can suspend your disbelief, you may be able to enjoy the mystery, but I couldn't.

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  • Til Death Do Them Part

    Tory Benning is getting married! Sadly, she just buried her father a short time ago and the wedding is bitter sweet. But the ceremony comes off with out a hitch and it's time to get the party started...only now the groom has gone missing right after their nuptials. As Tory and her BFF Ashley look for the missing groom, they find some things in the garden maze that Tory and her company built that makes the missing groom appear to be a dead groom. Tory needs to find out what happened to her husband before the police arrest her for the deed or the murderer reunites the bride and groom forever. A new cozy set on the California coast. I would love to have given this another star, but the reality of a bride losing her husband right after taking their vows would render her far more upset than the protagonist is in this book. But there are a whole lot of red herrings and suspects to keep you busy while trying to overlook that one gaping hole and get you to the reveal of whodunit.

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  • Well crafted cozy

    On Tory Benning's wedding day, her newly minted husband disappears and she is afraid he's been murdered. As she searches for clues, everything she finds supports that feeling. After an aunt she didn't remember also dies, she begins to suspect the recent death of her father was not accidental. As Tory and her lawyer friend Ashley doggedly pursue information, it becomes clear to her not only is it murder, but she and her family are in eminent danger if she along with her friend, Adrian, in the police department don't find answers soon. I didn't get into the story right away as I didn't connect with young well off characters, but as I kept reading I was drawn in by the author's style. The characters are well defined, varied and interesting. I would buy a book written by this author in the future as I did connect and ended up enjoying the book...so much so that I would recommend it..even to readers in my senior age group. I requested and received a Netgalley ARC to peruse and offer my opinion freely.

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  • Debut of A Tory Benning Mystery series

    Murder in the Secret Maze by Judith Gonda has Tory Benning marrying Milo Spinelli at the Hotel Santa Sofia. After the ceremony, Tory heads off to change into her dancing dress and shoes. She returns to enter the reception with Milo, but no one can find the groom. It is soon apparent that something has gone awry. Tory with her best friend, Ashley begin searching for Milo. Some believe that Milo changed his mind and took off. Tory believes her hubby is the victim of foul play after finding disturbing clues in the secret maze she designed for the hotel. After a month, the police have made no progress, so Tory decides to take matters into her hands. At a fundraiser at the hotel, Tory speaks with a fortune teller who suggests she might find answers in the secret maze. When Tory goes to search, she finds the fortune teller on the ground with a knife to her chest. Tory knows she needs to work quickly, or she could be the next victim. Murder in the Secret Maze is the debut of A Tory Benning Mystery series. Tory Benning is a landscape designer working at her families’ firm. She lost her father two weeks prior to a strange accident, but Milo felt her father would want them to go through with the nuptials. The book opens with Milo missing and Tory posting a notice about the incident on Instagram. I wish we could have met Milo before he was murdered. I would have liked to see Tory and Milo together (to understand their relationship and how they felt about each other). I was also baffled as to why Tory did not grieve for her father or her groom. The emotion was not there. However, I could tell how much she loved her Pomeranian, Iris. Murder in the Secret Maze has a multifaceted mystery. There is family drama, secrets, good clues and unexpected revelations. There are numerous suspects, speculation and misdirection. I did, though, find it a cinch to identify the guilty party and I was left with unanswered questions at the end of the book. I was confused about the police investigation. Sergeant Adrian Ramirez is who Tory dealt with regarding Milo’s disappearance. But then we have Sergeant Ernie Gomez conducting his own investigation. He hounds Tory because he believes she is the guilty party. I did not like Ernie and wish he had been eliminated from the story. We also have Jake Logan, a private investigator working for the insurance company. There are sparks between Tory and Jake which I found odd since her husband was just murdered (too soon to flirt or think about a new relationship). Murder in the Secret Maze contained good writing with varied pacing. I liked that Tory and her best friend Ashley are spunky women. They are careful investigators which I appreciated. I also liked Tory’s unique profession and the information about water conservation landscaping. This is a good beginning for Judith Gonda. Murder in the Secret Maze is a multidimensional cozy mystery with wedding woes, a mysterious maze, curious clues, a perky Pomeranian, lush landscapes and a perplexing puzzle.

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  • California, Landscaping, and Murder!

    California, Landscaping, and Murder! This is an excellent cozy mystery. Our heroine is in charge of a family-owned landscape and design firm in a fictitious southern California coastal town. The story includes everything one associates with southern California including wildfires and water-conserving landscape design. The storyline is exceptionally cool. Unlike many cozy mysteries, this one does not get obnoxiously detailed about food, wine, pastry, clothing, exercise or pets – but they are all in there. The final reveal was unexpected and actually fit with all of the clues. I will enjoy reading more of this author's work, especially the rest of this series. I received this ARC book for free from Net Galley and this is my honest review.

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