Ax to Grind (Kenni Lowry #3) Review
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When you live in a small town, your secrets rarely stay secret for long—because everone seems to know everyone else’s business. But in Ax to Grind, the third Kenni Lowry mystery by author Tonya Kappes, long-kept secrets lead to murder and mayhem for a small-town sheriff.

The story follows Sheriff Kenni Lowry’s investigation as the gossip circles in her small town of Cottonwood, Kentucky, erupt with speculation about the town’s most famous resident. Author Beryle Stone was best known for her scandalous romance novels—but her next book could be her most scandalous yet. After the author’s death, word spreads of a secret tell-all that promises to reveal some of the town’s residents’ darkest secrets. And when Beryle’s assistant is found murdered, Kenni finds herself in a race to find the killer—and the manuscript.

With its likable characters and its small-town Southern charm, Ax to Grind is a charming cozy, blending the right touches of mystery and romance for an enjoyably easy-going read. Kenni faces plenty of challenges as the town’s sheriff—especially as the town’s young, female sheriff—but she knows how to use the system in her favor. She knows everyone in town, and she knows how to get the town gossips to open up—which helps her investigation.

She also gets plenty of help from her handsome deputy, Finn Vincent, whose good looks and obvious chemistry with his boss are the talk of the town. And she gets some supernatural assistance in the form of the ghost of her beloved poppa, Cottonwood’s former sheriff. Admittedly, the ghostly assistance does seem rather out of place in an otherwise normal, down-home cozy mystery. But it certainly separates this series from other cozies.

Still, it’s sometimes hard to believe that the secrets contained in the mysterious tell-all would really be such big secrets. The town seems to be run by a group of ladies that Kenni calls the henny-hens: a tight-knit band of seasoned gossips, whose mission is to leave no stone unturned and no juicy gossip unspoken. And if the town’s one celebrity were turning the residents’ secret affairs into bestselling novels, it’s pretty likely that everyone would know about it. So while the secrets and mysteries definitely give the story plenty of interest and intrigue, they may make you question the dirt-digging aptitude of this town’s gossips.

If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you’ll recognize many of the characters in Ax to Grind—and you’ll enjoy following along on Kenni’s latest case. The story isn’t without its holes, but the likable characters and small-town scandals make it a light and entertaining read.

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