Mack Dalton has named plenty of murderers since she and her barstool detectives began cracking cold cases. But as a new year looms, time is ticking on the hunt for her craftiest villain yet . . .
As Milwaukee counts down to New Year’s Eve, bar owner Mackenzie “Mack” Dalton has but one resolution—unmask the dangerous mastermind who has been taunting her and killed bouncer Gary Gunderson. Mack and her fellow barflies have fleshed out a suspect and arranged an invite-only party to put a cork in the murderer’s game for good. But when the clock strikes midnight and their suspect is found cold and stiff in the upstairs lounge, it seems the celebration may have come too soon. Now Mack must rely on her special talents to find the real criminal among the crowd of revelers—or someone won’t survive until last call . . .
Worldbuilding: Lovely Milwaukee setting, and her bar was a really fun location.
Characters: Mack was an intriguing MC, particularly because of her synesthesia. I think it’s the first character with it that I’ve read about. It’s an intriguing condition that makes “sniffing out” clues a lot more entertaining, that’s for sure. She was easy to like and sympathize with (cast, the whole boyfriend situation), but then the maybe-feels for Mal thing kind of killed my mood. Not that there was anything wrong with Mal, or Duncan (which I like almost by default, I’m a fan of detectives xD), but I just really, really, really hate triangles. And I end up liking less a character who encourages or permits them to appear, as a result.
Another thing I really liked was the Capone Club and its members – or, well, the great majority of them, hehe.
Plot: The start was kind of slow, and the recap galore had me confused about the timeline of this story – it took a bit of re-reading to figure out where the “start” point of the story really was. I enjoyed the mystery, that part was very entertaining and fun. But then there was the romantic aspect – never a bad thing, ofc! – except when you really, really, really hate even an inkling of triangles. But if you’re into then, this will be a plus for you.
Writing: First person, past tense narrative, Mack’s POV. Nice voice and I enjoyed the writing style.
Curb Appeal: Cozy-ness cover, hooking blurb – strong candidate for my cozy mystery cravings.
I had a good time reading A Toast to Murder, though certain things weren’t necessarily my cup of tea. This was my first title from the series, though, and I didn’t come into the novel with any kind of affection for either of the characters. I think if I had, the whole triangle thing might have been less irritating – but it’s a pet peeve of mine, what can you do? Ignoring that, the mystery was engaging and the cast of characters fun. Plus the original elements (synesthesia, the Capone Club) make this a read I totally recommend for fans of cozy mysteries and of original elements.