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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Headlines, Deadlines, and Lies by Stephanie LaVigne is the first book in the Sunshine State: Cozy + Crime series. Life on Florida's Gulf Coast comes with a few surprises. Piper is a single mom of two small children and has just started a job at the local newspaper, but first, she needs to come up with a creative idea for a column that will impress her boss. An idea that will prove she can fill the vacated column and have readers coming back. She finally lands on an idea that sends her into the world of genealogical investigation and into the family history of her best friend. What she thought was a simple investigation leads Piper onto the path of a missing branch of her friend's family tree.
Piper is a grounded character as a single mom searching for a new chapter in her life with a new job and seeking a balance between it and raising two young children. The descriptions of the kids' personalities and their dialogue are well-written with Stephanie LaVigne creating little kids that feel so real you can easily hear them arguing. The mystery revolves around the research Piper does into the genealogical line of her friend Boots and questions in her research lead her to look into Boots' long-lost father. The characters are delightful with a variety that she comes into contact with at the paper such as her editor Gretchen who is a little intimidating, Ernst who is the subject of Boots' ire, and feature writer Martha whose shoes she's filling. Boots is an important character, not just in the story, but in Piper's life with a sweet disposition seen through her writing Obits with the belief that every newly departed person has a right to be remembered as a legend. The handsome crime scene reporter has an instant spark with Piper and creates a potential connection for her since her marriage floundered. Headlines, Deadlines and Lies is a realistic story with charming characters, humorous dialogue, and a unique mystery that delves deep into genealogical research.