It's been no secret that I haven't been all hearts and flowers with this series and at this point, I don't think anything could really save it. Technically, it could have been saved a long time ago, but this installment gave a very slight glimmer of hope.
As this installment begins, it's Fourth of July and the town of Chilson, Michigan is packed with tourists and townsfolk alike as the fireworks are about to begin.
Minnie Hamilton's teenage niece, Katrina (Kate) has come to the lakeside town for the summer (just like Minnie used to do in her youth) with the hope of finding a job. She ends up getting three retail jobs and following the fireworks, she trips over the body of Rex Stuhler, who was shot during the show.
Kate begins to have nightmares and after Minnie tells her that she knows how she feels, since she's discovered many bodies herself, Kate pushes her away and while moody, Minnie learns from Kate's employers that she's a very outgoing girl and very dedicated to her job(s).
While this is good news to hear, Minnie doesn't know what she's doing wrong because the girl goes through multiple mood swings and when she's upset runs away from her and doesn't want to get to know any of the local teens.
A few days (or weeks) later while on a bookmobile day, Minnie and her assistant Julia, discover the body of summer resident Nicole Price in an off the road lake.
As Minnie tries to figure out the murder of Rex and Nicole, Kate offers her a theory, and she asks her to tell the police what she thinks. Minnie tells her that she'll tell the detectives, but later when confronted by Kate, she tells her that she forgot, and Kate runs off again.
For the most part, a lot of the story deals with Kate's whining since no one will take her seriously, but Cass does a good job turning on the teen angst switch. This is what makes the story much more interesting since Kate isn't a cardboard copy of the other characters.
Since the last installment, Minnie's Aunt Francis and best friend Kristen have had their respective weddings, along with a surprise wedding also happening. I don't think I've read a crimozy that had three weddings so close together, especially when it wasn't the main character. These three weddings sort of set up the ending.
As the book begins, we know that it's the Fourth of July weekend, but then the following timeline goes off the rails when one paragraph it's one day and the next it's another. This has been a problem that I've had throughout this series along with something taking place in the present and then doing a flashback and not knowing you're reading a flashback. I keep ripping out chunks of hair.
Another thing that really has gotten to me over the course of the series is that even though the story takes place somewhere in the extreme northwest part of Michigan's lower peninsula, the characters always refer to characters living downstate. It would have been easier saying the Detroit area, and everyone knows that if you live in the lower peninsula, everyone is called a troll, thanks to the term from the people living in the upper peninsula, since we live below the Mackinaw Bridge.
Once again, Cass includes too many characters who really don't amount to much. They might provide some information, but again, we get a full backstory and description of them, which we really don't need. The information part yes, but chances are you'll forget about that important information since it may not be mentioned again for quite a few pages.
Unfortunately, after the killer is revealed, it's still a long way to the ending and really by this time, you just want the book to be over.