Book Review: Eternally 21 by Linda Joffe Hull

Eternally 21What’s it about?

Coupon-clipping Mrs. Frugalicious gets more than she bargained for

After Mr. Frank “Finance” Michaels loses the family’s financial nest egg in a Ponzi scheme, his wife Maddie does whatever she can to help keep up the appearance that everything is financially fine. When she starts a bargain hunter’s blog under the alias Mrs. Frugalicious, her website becomes a viral hit with a growing “frugarmy” of budget advice seekers.

While Maddie is researching “frugasm”-worthy deals on holiday shopping for teens, Eternally 21 store manager Laila DeSimone mistakenly accuses her of shoplifting. Then her day goes from bad to worse when Laila expires on the floor. Since Laila was a universally disliked manager, the murder suspect list is longer than Maddie’s bargain spreadsheet. But when evidence points to Maddie as the prime suspect, she must track down the real culprit. Can she uncover the truth before police throw away her get-out-of-jail-free coupon for good?

My thoughts

This book had been in my Netgalley review TBR pretty much since I’d starting blogging (that’s 2 years!), so with taking part in the Netgalley reading challenge I’ve started from the oldest in my list.

So this is the quite light-hearted tale of Maddie aka Mrs Frugalicious who gets drawn into a the murder of a young, very unpopular store manager in the local shopping centre.

From the outset I found Maddie got really involved in the investigation and the lives of those in the mall; maybe a little too interested and I wasn’t quite sure that this all felt entirely 100% realistic, along with the endless trips back to the mall, the to-ing and fro-ing back and forth with Griff the security guard. Don’t get me wrong, Maddie is a likeable enough character, she could be someone we all know, she just makes some odd choices . But as she’s playing her hand at being Miss Marple she’s also having to deal with her manipulative muppet of a husband, without giving too much away this is addressed! (thankfully).

The writing style is very easy, flows quite naturally but in some places the pace is quite slow and I felt dragged a little. However, it does pick up pace towards the end once the details start unravelling.

I did have my own suspicions about who the murderer was and where the author was trying to lead the reader which turned out to be totally unfounded and incorrect so fair play to the author as the end was a huge surprise for me.

As the book has its basis in a money saving blog (Mrs Frugalicious) there’s even budgeting and money saving tips included as footnotes which came across as quite useful (particularly for US readers).

Overall a nice, pleasant murder mystery which isn’t that challenging. Probably not really for die hard crime fans but maybe more for fans of the Shopaholic series.

Many thanks to the publishers for an ARC via Netgalley.

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