Liv Spyer is your (slightly above) average New Yorker … lives in a tiny apartment, works a relatively mindless job in her grandparents’ key shop while trying to make it as a photographer. She will also try solving a murder.
Regina Montague is the photographer to the stars in New York – coordinating a team of top-notch shutterbugs to capture the the elite, upper-class socialites at special events. She happens to be in the key shop where Liv is working, when she gets a call that one of her photographers isn’t able to make it to the Holiday Debutante Ball – the socialite event of the season. Liv quickly jumps on the opportunity, pointing out her photos hanging about the shop and offering her services (knowing that putting Regina Montague on her resume would greatly help her career).
It’s not a an easy decision for Regina, but she needs the photographers to cover the event and she decides to give Liv the chance.
The event mostly goes well, with Liv even getting the opportunity to flirt a bit with an eligible bachelor. At the end of the ball, however, billionaire Charlie Archibald is murdered and Regina is framed to be the killer.
Aside from losing the opportunity to work for the famous Montague agency with Regina in jail, Liv is convinced that Regina is not guilty and sets about to prove her innocence.
This is a cozy mystery – not typically a genre that I would seek out, but as I’ve been enjoying mysteries lately and the gimmick (there’s always a gimmick, it seems, with a mystery series) of photography appealed to me (and because it’s a first book in a series and not mid-way through), I wanted to give this a try. And while it’s not an outstanding book, it definitely has potential and worth reading.
A mystery featuring an amateur detective is generally only going to be as good as the main character (think C.J. Box’s Cassie Dewell or Joe Pickett mysteries, Craig Johnson’s Longmire, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, etc [although each of these would not be considered an amateur]) so it’s important that we find Liv to be likeable and relatable. Fortunately she is both. Note that I referred to her as a “typical” New Yorker earlier (relatable) and her personality is such that it gets her in with the elite photography organization and also in with the elite social class. A pushy, aggressive attitude wouldn’t accomplish this, but the determined, confident Liv does.
The character and the situation really are the driving forces here, and the mystery itself is just … ‘meh.’ Though I admit that I generally feel that way in cozy mysteries … cozies tend to lack the grit and excitement of a mystery to me.
I am definitely interested enough to read the next book in the series, hopefully building more on the photography aspect as well as the adventures in New York.
Looking for a good book? Photo Finished by Christin Brecher is a modern, cozy mystery set in New York’s upper social class, with a lower-middle-class, go-getting photographer as the protagonist.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Christin Brecher
series: A Snapshot of NYC #1
publisher: Kensington Cozies
paperback, 288 pages