First Line: "It was an absolute monster."
Summary: Trinidad Jones is new to the town of Upper Sprocket, Oregon. Her family hails from Miami and her grandfather from Cuba. A divorce is what brought her to Upper Sprocket, her ex-husband's hometown and that of his other two previous wives. You see, when he was arrested and sent to jail, he deeded "Gabe's Hot Dogs" to Trinidad. Since she had lost everything else, she decided to turn the shop into the Shimmy and Shake Shop. Growing up she had helped her grandfather, Papa Luis, make ice cream. She is determined to make a go of it.
Unfortunately, before she can open her shop, she discovers the body of a neighboring shop owner, Kevin The Popcorn King, in a giant popcorn kettle inside his shop. Trinidad thought she had escaped the crime of Miami by coming to Upper Sprocket. The town gossip mill is set into motion and soon everyone is whispering about greed and treasure and ex-wives. Juliette, one of Gabe's ex-wives is the prime suspect. Trinidad can't believe Juliette is capable of murder and is determined to discover who the real killer is.
My thoughts: Dana Mentink is an author I enjoy so when I saw she had a cozy mystery series coming out I had to give it a try. I am glad I did!
Trinidad Jones was devastated by her divorce. She never saw it coming. Not only did she learn her husband had been married before, but he had started a relationship with another woman before her divorce was finalized. And to top it off, he was convicted of embezzlement. The three woman caught glimpses of one another at the trial. He left each of them a business. Trinidad was left "Gabe's Hot Dogs" and Juliette was left "Store Some More", a storage unit facility that she has been trying to run by herself. It is awkward when she and Trinidad meet, but they both make an effort to be civil and eventually realize that they were both hurt by the same man and share something of a bond. So, when Juliette is suspected of murder and held in jail, Trinidad decides she needs a friend and does her best to support her. Bonnie, the third ex-wife, is mentioned, but doesn't come into this story.
There are several great characters in the story. Carlos and Diego, teenaged twins Trinidad has hired to help in her shop. Quinn Logan, who owns Logan's Nut Farm just outside of town. He has a brother, Doug, who is autistic. Quinn is his primary caregiver and the two of them are practically inseparable. They become good friends with Trinidad. I loved the relationship between Quinn and Doug. Trinidad's dog, Noodles, adopted when she moved to town. He is a senior dog who flunked his Emotional Support Training. But he is a dog who wants to help anyone in distress. He and Doug understand one another and get along well. I really loved the role Noodles played in the story. Police Chief Cynthia Bigley, older sister of Trinidad's ex-husband. She loves her brother, but realizes he is not a saint. She keeps an open mind and follows the clues. I like her and hope to see more of her in future installments.
The mystery was interesting and involved a rumor that there was hidden treasure in one man's storage unit. The man had recently passed away and the contents of this unit were auctioned off. Everyone seems to know about the possibility of hidden treasure, it even brought people from out of town to an open house for the man's home. So, the mystery involves trying to discover what the treasure might be as well as who would kill in order to get it.
I enjoyed the descriptions of the town and surrounding countryside:
"Somehow the quirky name suited the town settled firmly in the shadow of the mountains, with old trees lining the streets and people who still waved hello as they drove by. Five hours east of Portland, surrounded on three sides by the Wallowa Mountains, Sprocket was plopped at the edge of a sparkling green valley, with soaring peaks as a backdrop and air so clean it almost hurt to breathe it."
"Neat rows of well-tended trees backed a tiny wood-sided office. The shade looked cool and inviting as she wiped the sweat from her brow."
Be warned, the descriptions of ice cream concoctions will cause your mouth to water. There is a recipe for Easy Key Lime Ice Cream included at the end.
Pint of No Return is a great start to what looks to be a promising series.