The Busy Body by Kemper Donovan
Mystery | Cozy Mystery
From the host of the All About Agatha podcast, Kemper Donovan, comes an entertaining new mystery series. Featuring a ghostwriter who teams up with a presidential candidate to solve a murder, The Busy Body has all the classic mystery vibes but is combined with a sarcastic and cynical nameless narrator, giving the book a fresh twist.
While this novel has the elements of a cozy mystery, including amateur sleuths and some lovely red herrings — it’s also not your typical cozy read. Told from the perspective of a witty and sharp main character, the writing is conversational and engaging with a strong dose of humor, sarcasm, and contemporary references. The dialogue and interactions between the characters were snappy and quick, and the plot kept me engaged from start to finish.
While I did figure out the “main” twist around the halfway point, I didn’t have the motive or all the other little details nailed until the final reveal — which happened in true Agatha Christie style.
My favorite thing about this novel was the choice to keep the narrator nameless. While it’s told from the perspective of the ghostwriter, we never learn her name or anything about her personal backstory. While she was active in helping solve the murder, she takes on a secondary role in the murder investigation — acting as more of a “Watson” to Senator Dorothy Gibson’s “Holmes.” I thought this made for some very intriguing choices both stylistically and plot-wise.
Given that this is the first in a new series, I’m curious to see how the “nameless narrator” decision plays out in future novels — especially since she wasn’t the primary sleuth in this mystery. Overall, this was a gossipy, snarky mystery with some great characters. I look forward to continuing the series!
Out-of-the-box cozy mysteries with a sarcastic and witty narrator
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Copy of the book provided courtesy of the publisher, Kensington Books. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
(From the publisher) It’s a dream assignment. Former Senator Dorothy Gibson, aka that woman, is the most talked-about person in the country right now, though largely for the wrong reasons. As an independent candidate for President of the United States, Dorothy split the vote and is being blamed for the shocking result. After her very public defeat, she’s retreated to her home in rural Maine, inviting her ghostwriter to join her.
Her collaborator is impressed by Dorothy’s work ethic and steel-trap mind, not to mention the stunning surroundings (and one particularly gorgeous bodyguard). But when a neighbor dies under suspicious circumstances, Dorothy is determined to find the killer in their midst. And when Dorothy Gibson asks if you want to team up for a top secret, possibly dangerous murder investigation, the only answer “Of course!”
The best ghostwriters are adept at asking questions and spinning stories… two talents, it turns out, that also come in handy for sleuths. Dorothy’s political career, meanwhile, has made her an expert at recognizing lies and double-dealing. Working together, the two women are soon untangling motives and whittling down suspects, to the exasperation of local police. But this investigation—much like the election—may not unfold the way anyone expects…