Cauley MacKinnon is staring down the barrel of twenty-eighth birthday, certain the only things standing between her and certain doom are instinct, pure dumb luck and a kick-ass hairdresser. Starting over after a truly bad marriage and armed with a freshly minted journalism degree, Cauley is disappointed to find that the only job she can get in her hometown of Austin is as an obituary writer - something that only happens to interns who've been very good, or reporters who've been very bad.
Somehow, Cauley's managed to do both. While on the hunt for a story that will get her off the Death Page, Cauley's life takes a turn for the worse when hapless childhood friend, Scott Barnes, threatens suicide and barricades himself in a dilapidated old shed where he phones Cauley for help. Cauley is soon devastated when she discovers Barnes dead at his computer with an empty bottle of bourbon and a computer-generated suicide note. Soon, Cauley is up to her eyelashes in dead bodies and everyone wants to know what Barnes said in the shed - the last time anyone saw him alive.
Please note that the book starts with an attempt by a major character's suicide attempt. Discretion is advised is you are triggered by such a scene.
This book kept me awake and reading until the wee hours of the morning. After finishing the book, I promptly bought the second in the series. I read this 663 page book in two nights, it was quite an addicting read.
It took a while for me to warm up to Cauley (about the first third of the book) because she suffers from "first book in cozy mystery MC awkwardness and airheadness" syndrome. Once I got into her groove and she began really investigating the murder, things clicked and the pages flew. The cast is rounded out by developed characters, but I wasn't given info-dumps every time someone new pops up. There is not a love triangle, but there was two potential love interests; at the end of the book, only one of the suitors was crowned love interest.
There are a lot of plot threads to keep track of. They wrap up nicely at the end.
There are a lot of copy editing errors in this first book. Missing words, quotations that were not set properly, etc didn't stop my pace of reading, but were so noticeable. That is why I took off a star in the rating. Someone needs to go over the copy with a fine tooth comb and fix all the errors.