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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Murder at Mile Marker 18 by Denise Jaden is the first book in the Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Caper series. Following the death of her husband eight months ago, Mallory is taking a few steps forward in life. What she never expected was to end up getting involved in the middle of a murder investigation with her new partner being a teenager wanting answers to her father's death. During her first day back at church, Mallory learns about the death of Dan Montrose which leads her to decide to do the neighborly thing and share her condolences. All she did was deliver a casserole to the family and the next thing she knows is she's trying to uncover answers which catapult her into a whole lot of family drama and uncovering secrets that could lead her straight to the killer or lead the killer straight to her.
Denise Jaden creates a fun introduction to Mallory, picking up after the loss of her husband as she's stepping back into the routine that she and her husband had. She expected her life to be different than it is now but with another series of events, everything changes for her once again and takes her in a new direction. She's driven to bring a casserole to a grieving family who recently lost a loved one which reflects her own grief from her own loss. The events are coincidental but the teenage daughter's desperation for answers and curiosity land Mallory directly into the middle of this family's drama. Amber is reminiscent of a Nancy Drew type as she's a young teen that is driven, impressionable, and fearless as she jumps headfirst into the investigation without a thought to her own safety. She's an idealistic teenager but her drive and her grief give her a commonality with Mallory who lost her husband and has the same headstrong attitude. The two have a sweet pairing with each filling a void for the other - an unexpected combination that makes for a winning team and lighthearted comic relief in a bantering connection that has the teenager keeping Mallory on her toes. Amber's family is at the root of the mystery as her father's secrets come tumbling out, which creates drama and evolution within each character and brings out their inner sleuth. Denise Jaden delivers fun and charming mystery in Murder at Mile Marker 18 that every cozy lover will want to have on their shelf.