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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Strangled by Simile by Kelley Kaye is the third book in the Chalkboard Outlines mystery series. Emma's facing her third year working at Thomas Jefferson High School, and she's rejoicing in the fact they've spent the last few months without needing to solve a murder. Emma has never been happier spending her days teaching what she loves, hanging out with her best friend Leslie, and seeing her handsome boyfriend Hunter every day - until she finds Charlie Foreman dead. To make matters worse, Leslie is a likely suspect, given the two didn't get along. Emma and Leslie are no strangers to solving murders, so the two set to work to clear Leslie's name and catch the killer. As if a murderer roaming the school isn't enough to worry about, Emma's recent vision problems lead to surprising news.
The variety of personalities, including the principal, Emma, her friends, and the other teachers, easily pull you into the attitude and world of high school. The high school provides the ideal background for Emma and Leslie's sleuthing antics while also showing the depth of Emma's role as a teacher. Their sleuthing adds humor and fun to the story, thanks to the perfect combination of Emma and Leslie as the leading duo subtly searching for clues, interrogating students, and tracking down a killer. Their scenes provide humor and reach all their goals with them enjoying hunting down clues and finding suspects.
Kelley Kaye balances the murder mystery with Emma's sudden bouts of dizziness, blurred vision, and exhaustion. Her journey is rooted in a real and emotional discovery that comes with surprising news and genuine reactions. This adds another layer to the story while naturally weaving serious elements into the lighthearted tone. The primary vein of the story is an upbeat cozy mystery, with the high school backdrop providing quirkiness and heart. The literary references add insight into Emma's personality, enhancing the story's tone with mentions of Ali Baba and plenty of Shakespearean quotes. Emma uses these as a sounding board to calm down and to work through her feelings. Strangled by Simile by Kelley Kaye is a must-have for cozy mystery lovers with a lighthearted tone, a high school backdrop, a humorous sleuthing duo, and a lot of heart.