Wedding Bel Blues, by Maggie McConnon

Setting:  Foster’s Landing

Characters:  Belfast (Bel) McGrath, only girl in a family of five children, former chef in a five-star NYC restaurant. She’s back at home after a disastrous incident in the kitchen and the abrupt end of her relationship. Bel’s family round out the cast of characters, as well as her former high school sweetheart and current police detective, Kevin Hanson, and her new suitor, Brendan Joyce.

Plot:  Growing up, Bel was eager to get out of Foster’s Landing and away from her boisterous brothers and busy parents. The disappearance of her best friend, Amy, coming after an argument between the pair and a night that Bel can’t fully remember, only fueled her desire to leave. And she did leave, creating a career for herself as an executive chef in a New York City restaurant. Her life was going well – her career was hot and she was engaged – until a former President dined at her restaurant and chocked on a fish bone. The resulting confrontation between Bel and the restaurant owner lead to her leaving the city in disgrace. After hiding in the apartment above her father’s makeshift art studio back home in Foster’s Landing, Bel is forced into service at Maid of Honor for her cousin, Caleigh’s, wedding. The wedding day doesn’t quite go as planned, the bride drunk and  passed out at the reception after expressing doubts about the marriage before walking down the aisle and spotting among the guests the man with whom she had a one night stand just days ago. But shortly after tucking Caleigh into bed in a guest room at the historic manor Bel’s parents own and operate as a banquet facility, Bel witnesses her cousin’s lover fall from the balcony above to his death on the foyer floor. She can’t help but feel that the incident is more than an accident, nor can she stop herself from poking around in the investigation. But the deeper she digs, the more secrets she uncovers – about more than just a mystery murderer.

Pacing:  Steady

Predictability:  Low

Wild Card:  I was first introduced to Belfast and her family in the second book in the series, Bel of the Brawl. While I enjoyed that story very much, I’m quite glad that I went back to the beginning to start the series with Wedding Bel Blues. Meeting all of the characters in this setting revealed more about each of their intricacies and idiosyncrasies, and only makes me even more eager to see what comes next in the Belfast McGrath mystery series.

26114451About the Book
Are they tying the knot?

Belfast McGrath has spent the last fifteen years avoiding her big, bustling, brash Irish family. But when her five-star culinary career goes up in flames, she retreats to Foster’s Landing—where she’s immediately tapped as her cousin Caleigh’s maid-of-honor. It’s a perfect recipe for disaster…especially when Bel learns that the wedding preparations included Caleigh having one last one-night stand.

Or the noose?

When Caleigh’s lover plunges from the second-floor balcony during the reception, Bel can’t help but think his death was no accident. Soon Detective Kevin Hanson, who just happens to be Bel’s long-ago love, arrives on the scene—looking hotter than ever. Heartbreak and homicide hardly help Bel to feel more at home, but if she is going to make a new beginning for herself, including putting the past behind her, she must first steer clear of a cold-hearted killer.

The Belfast McGrath Mystery Series

  1. Wedding Bel Blues
  2. Bel of the Brawl
  3. Bel, Book, and Scandal

author-photo-maggie-barbieri_credit-to-jim-barbieri-and-julia-boltinAbout the Author
Maggie McConnon grew up in New York immersed in Irish culture and tradition. A former Irish stepdancer, she was surrounded by a family of Irish musicians who still play at family gatherings. She credits her Irish grandparents with providing the stories of their homeland and their extended families as the basis for the stories she tells in her Belfast McGrath novels. Maggie McConnon is a pseudonym for Maggie Barbieri, who is the author of ten other mystery and suspense novels including The Murder 101 series and Once Upon a Lie, Lies That Bind, and Lie in Plain Sight.

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