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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Death by Sample Size: A Hilarious Whodunit by Susie Black is the first book in the Holly Swimsuit Mystery series. It is no secret that Holly’s co-worker Bunny is difficult. Holly certainly doesn’t get along with her, but she never predicted that someone would go as far as killing her. When one of her co-workers gets blamed for Bunny’s murder, Holly believes that the police have the wrong guy, but can she prove it? She decides to dive into the case herself and sets out to catch the real culprit. Holly turns to her closest friends for help and together they embark on an epic sleuthing adventure that will bring them face-to-face with a killer.
The tone is comical from the outset with Holly’s attitude quickly established through her opinion of Bunny. The mystery revolves around Bunny, who Susie Black develops as a character at the beginning of the story, setting up the motives of potential suspects. Sleuthing puts Holly into some amusing (and dangerous) situations such as receiving a threatening note and the fear of being close to a killer. Holly’s group of friends (the yentas) is an important aspect of her story with Sonia, Queenie, Hope, and Joan providing her with backup and support as the mystery unfolds. Each one has a distinct personality such as the vivacious and quick-witted Joan, and Hope who is on the shady side of her thirties. They are bonded over their jobs, and it creates a foundation for the closeness of this group of friends. These characters add charm and hilarity, which helps to maintain the comedic tone.
Swimsuits are a central theme and are seen throughout the story. The writing creates vivid visuals that have a dose of humor in the phrasing such as damp fingers of morning fog giving the air a chewy texture, innards twisted around like a slinky, and like a barbershop pole had a child with a fire hydrant. The comedy is top-notch with antics such as her getting stuck in a chair and wiggling to get free. Mystery lovers and those that appreciate wit will enjoy Death by Sample Size with its clever writing, charming characters, murder mystery, and amusing premise.