Deputy coroner Mattie Winston knows a thing or two about dead bodies. That’s why she’s on the case of Derrick Ames, a high school math teacher stabbed to death with a barbecue fork straight to the heart. Sure, she’s turned up some motives and a few suspects, but nothing adds up. Especially when the evidence points to Ames’s teenage son. Newly pregnant Mattie can’t believe it, even as her own long-estranged father may be following her. But one thing’s certain, she’d better start figuring things out fast, or a deadly perpetrator could be subtracting two more victims from the population of Sorenson, Wisconsin…
Stiff Penalty by Annelise Ryan
Series: A Mattie Winston Mystery, #6
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Paperback: 368 pages
Paperback: 368 pages
E-Book File Size: 913 KB
Stiff Penalty, a cozy mystery by Annelise Ryan, is the sixth book in her Mattie Winston series. In case you are new to this great series, here is the series synopsis from Mattie's website:
Mattie Winston, RN, is a wryly cynical, politically incorrect, inherently nosy OR nurse who lives in the small Wisconsin town of Sorenson, a place where gossip is a valued commodity, brats are something you eat, and machismo is measured by the throw capacity of your snowblower. When Mattie catches her surgeon husband in an empty operating room late one night with a coworker who is “vying for the title of head nurse,” Mattie quits her hospital job and her marriage, and goes to work for her gay best friend: medical examiner, Izzy Rybarceski. Embarrassed and angered by her husband’s philandering antics, Mattie works hard to restore some semblance of normalcy to her life, but death — and a host of quirky characters — keep getting in the way. And then there’s Detective Hunky… er… Hurley, the tall, dark haired, blue-eyed hunk of man meat who makes her hormones flare like a sunspot whenever he’s around.
Mattie’s very first case involves the murder of her husband’s paramour, and soon both she and her husband end up high on the suspect list. Can she redeem herself, clear her name, and find the real killer in time to keep herself from ending up on the autopsy table? You betcha!If you are new to the series, I recommend that you start at the beginning with Working Stiff, rather than with Stiff Penalty. Stiff Penalty can be read as a stand-alone, but Ms Ryan had to include enough back-story details from previous books, so that the plot makes sense. These details will be spoilers, when the earlier books are then read. (Oh, and by the way, even though Mattie is working for the Medical Examiner, there's nothing really gory described in the books, so they're safe for the squeamish.)
I love this book! I wanted to give it Six Kitties, but my scale only goes up to five. I need a new scale!
I love this book! But it's hard to put the reasons into words without including spoilers. Well, here goes.... Mattie is one of my favorite fictional characters. I would love to have her as a friend. I like her snarky sense of humor and her witty come-backs. Hurley is great, also. [If only these books were illustrated! Sigh...] From the beginning, these two have had great chemistry together.
Here is a quote illustrating Mattie's sense of humor:
...I haven't colored my hair in five months. I've got roots longer than Alex Haley's.And here, Hurley's and Mattie's:
"I can deal with your hormones, Winston. Hormones are nothing. I handle killers for a living, remember?"
That made me smile, although I'm not sure he fully understood the potential damage out-of-control female hormones can do.The secondary characters are well-written, too. There are some notable changes in several of the secondary characters, from previous books to Stiff Penalty. I was glad to see that two characters, whose personalities were somewhat unpleasant in earlier books, have made noticeable and welcome changes for the better in Stiff Penalty. I was not pleased (but not really surprised) to see that another character has had a personality change for the worse, and is now acting like a snot. [Who? Read the books!]
Stiff Penalty is a fun read, a quick read because I was eager to find out what would happen next for Mattie and Hurley. Most of the book is a series of flashbacks, told by Mattie to her doctor, as they discuss these earlier events. There is a wonderful climactic ending! I love this book!
One of my (many!) favorite scenes is early in the book, when Mattie and Izzy are conversing. Mattie is telling Izzy who she thinks is driving the car that's been following her, and Izzy thinks she is answering a totally different question. It's literally LOL funny, so <WARNING> don't be out in public when you get to that part!
I almost forgot about the mystery of Derrick Ames's murder. Mattie has a lot of investigating to do for this case, and she and I were surprised by whodunit.
All opinions shared are 100% my own.
About Annelise Ryan
She has written more than 200 published articles, worked as a book reviewer for Barnes & Noble®, and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.
She currently works as a registered nurse in an E.R. Visit her at mattiewinston.com.
Annelise will award a print copy of Stiff Penalty to a randomly drawn winner (US only)
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