Amanda "Mandy" Pepper and her new love interest from Caught Dead In Philadelphia, Detective C. K. Mackenzie have returned for a second helping in Gillian Roberts Amanda Pepper Mystery series. Ms. Pepper, a teacher at a private prep school is hoping to teach a lesson, using Dickens' A Christmas Carol as an example. She plans a trip to a local homeless shelter. She wants her class to provide a Christmas dinner for the residents. One of her students is Laura Clausen. Ms. Pepper feels Laura has real writing talent, but she is very shy and introverted. Laura’s father over rules her and decides to host a catered dinner at his home for the homeless instead, under the guise that it will be safer for the students. Unfortunately it is not so safe for him. His charred body is found among the burned ruins of his Christmas tree.
The plus side is there is not a shortage of those willing to take credit for killing Sandy Clausen. His daughter and her boyfriend are quick to speak up and with a history of being involved in a fire the year before Mackenzie is fairly set on her being the culprit. Just as Mandy is determined to prove her innocent. Now she just needs to weed through the dozens of suspects to figure out the real killer before he or she claims another life, perhaps even Amanda's.
This book, although again has a murder victim, also delves into the dark aspect of child abuse by a parent. Everything comes together to make another wonderful story by Gillian Roberts. Amanda is what we all hope a teacher to our children will be. She is a caring person who is truly passionate about her work and wants to share that passion with her students. Mackenzie is just as passionate about his work, but desires justice for the victim, even if that victim was not a father of the year contender. Add in a mother who would like to be a grandmother sooner than later, but with the benefit of a married daughter and Sasha a vivacious and loyal friend to Mandy and you have a glimpse into the type of characters Ms. Roberts has created.
Philly Stakes can be read as a standalone, but is still the second in the series and you will enjoy reading how Mandy and Mackenzie met in Caught Dead In Philadelphia. It is interesting that Mandy is sleeping with a man she has still no idea what his initials stand for. Perhaps they have no proper name to go with the initials, but if there is a fault in this book that is what I would point towards. You can tell they care for one another, but I feel like Mandy should have at least learned the proper name of the man she is having a relationship with by now. That is my opinion, but outside of this quirk I enjoyed the book from beginning to end and think you will too. From beginning to end, with every plot twist and turn you will fall in love with Amanda Pepper, who cannot help but be drawn into the murders that seem to happen around her.
Book two in the Amanda Pepper mystery series. Available for the first time in ebook format!
Amanda attempts to instill the spirit of Christmas by having her students prepare and serve a meal for the homeless, but her plan backfires. A wealthy and politically ambitious parent, Alexander "Sandy" Clausen, turns the event into a lavish, catered publicity and personal photo-op. Worse, his party ends in fire and death with his daughter, Amanda's student, one of three people who insist they alone started the fire. Amanda wants to solve the crime with her sometime boyfriend and cop C.K. Mackenzie, and is equally determined to teach the the elusive killer a lesson or two as well.
From Gillian Roberts, the Anthony Award- winning author of CAUGHT DEAD IN PHILADELPHIA.