The Chalkboard Outlines series by Kelley Kay is one of my personal favourite cozy mystery series. There’s drama, quirky humour, a pinch of romance, and lots of intrigues as the mystery unfolds. Being able to pick up Strangled by Simile was an absolute pleasure and I’m still reeling and grinning from all of the hijinks. It ranks up there as one of my personal faves, and I do occasionally jump back into this series with a wicked grin on my face. It’s a lot of fun!
So it’s time for round three – Emma Lovett and her best friend Leslie Parker are back teaching at Thomas Jefferson High School and MORE murders happen. Emma’s boyfriend Hunter Wells is back too! This poor school can’t get enough of these murders, and Emma always appears to be linked somehow. But, don’t worry folks, Emma and her band of misfit teachers will save the day (somehow or another…).
One of Emma’s worst nightmares of a colleague, Charlie Foreman, is found dead. It’s quite awkward this time, since yet again Emma seems to be a suspect… she and her friends are in for a treat as they unwind the tangled mess that is this murder mystery.
My only negative about this book was that I wanted more Hunter Wells! I love romance books, so I wanted a dash more of that handsome fella, but it didn’t affect the story at all so it’s just a personal preference. This book was absolutely marvelous without the extra dash of a handsome man floating around.
The side quest/story of this book pulls in Emma’s health issues. I really like how the health issues were tackled because they felt real and helped me understand Emma more as a character. I won’t give away the ending on what was going on, but it really made me respect and appreciate Kelley Kay. Adulting and health issues are real and scary, and seeing a book character experiencing true and honest issues in a real and honest way was honourable. While I normally like light, fluffy, and avoiding all negative things in my book (my life has been quite the tornado/hurricane/tsunami of un-fun), this one really made me nod and go “Yes, Kelley Kay gets it.” I respect and highly recommend this series because of it. It’s brave and important to share health issues stories like the one in this book and not make it super depressing or scary. It’s just real. I like it.
Before I tie up this review (pun intended… Strangled… Tied… Get it? Dad jokes, anyone?), here are some notes I took while reading the book. Take what you will, but my play by plays are quite fun while I’m reading away and oohing and ahhing at the book:
- This book gives me high school flashbacks with how great the writing was on reflecting back on a high school experience.
- Delightfully funny with lots of Shakespeare quotes! I dig it!
- Why are there so many murders at this school? This whole city feels like it should be on a lockdown.
- There is lots of foreshadowing in this book about what is going on with Emma.
- Teenagers acting suspicious and oversharing… Yep, that holds up.
- Teachers being called “lounge lizards” is one of the best things I’ve ever heard. I will be using this in my everyday, common vocabulary from now on. Someone copyright this line quick!
- Prank wars!
- The writing style of this book is fun, sassy, up-beat and full of references. It really kept me hooked!
- Wizard of Oz reference!
- The reference of going to an ER being like dropping your money in a food processor… Yep, only in America.
- The pain of losing one’s parent… That one hit home. Too hard. Too many feels.
- I’ve got theories on theories about what’s going on… Gotta love a book that allows my inner theorist to come out!
And now, time to finish up the show!
Overall, this book is fantastic, fabulous, and fiercely fun! I seriously love it and highly recommend it to my cozy murder mystery-loving readers. This book is where it’s at (well, the whole series really). Pick up this book and give me a ring – let’s chat about this hilariously awesome book!
Five out of five stars!
I received this book for free from the author, Kelley Kay Bowles, in exchange for an honest review.
Check out the second book in this series, Poison by Punctuation, on:
Goodreads – Poison by Punctuation
Youtube – Book Trailer – Poison by Punctuation
Amazon.com – Poison by Punctuation
Amazon.ca – Poison by Punctuation
If you’re like me, you probably are going to add a few more books to your TBR after reading a good review. Here are some of my personal recommendations if you like cozy mystery reads:
Poison by Punctuation by Kelley Kaye
A Taxing Affair by Michelle Cornish
After the Fall by Julie Cohen
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