The First Fiancée

A Bethany Jarviss Mystery

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
288 Pages
Reviewed on 01/29/2023
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Author Biography

Rita A. Popp writes light and twisty mysteries and other entertaining fiction. Two of her short stories appear in the Sisters in Crime Guppy anthologies Fish Out of Water and Fishy Business. She introduced amateur sleuth Bethany Jarviss in Stiletto Heels in the e-zine Mysterical-E. Bethany takes on another murder case in Rita’s debut novel, The First Fiancée: A Bethany Jarviss Mystery. Rita has worked as a university writer and editor, community college instructor, and for three newspapers and a public relations agency. She has volunteered as a literacy tutor, literary journal staffer, animal sanctuary writer and photographer, and book sorter for her local library’s used book sales. She and her husband divide their time between their home in Colorado and cabin in the New Mexico mountains. Those two states and Rita’s home state, Iowa, inspire much of her fiction. Watch for her story Passing on the Farm, releasing in spring 2023 in The Wild Rose Press’s Jelly Beans and Spring Things series. For more on this author, visit Rita’s website at

    Book Review

Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite

In the twisting murder mystery, The First Fiancée: A Bethany Jarviss Mystery by Rita A. Popp, a brilliant amateur detective works to solve a complicated murder case, uncovering a list of likely suspects who include her sister’s fiancé. When a woman’s remains are found in a ravine, her former boyfriend, Matt, becomes the prime suspect. Worried about her future husband, Joni asks her sister to investigate the case. As Bethany interviews various residents in the small, secluded New Mexico town, she discovers more details about Krystal, the beautiful aspiring singer who hoped to be discovered one day and build the life she believed she deserved. As the list of suspects expands, new shocking revelations emerge and Bethany continues to doubt Matt’s innocence.

Rich with surprising secrets and interesting characters, The First Fiancée is intriguing from the first page. The book packs a punch from the beginning when details of the murder are disclosed as Bethany learns about the crime from Matt. Bethany is a masterfully developed lead character who is keen and realistic. She is determined to help her sister and discover the truth. I enjoyed how the townspeople’s stories were carefully interwoven together in relation to the investigation. The novel develops into a fascinating puzzle involving many suspects and unforeseen details that kept me guessing. A consistently engaging story with a set of compelling characters, The First Fiancée by Rita A. Popp makes a great read for fans of cozy mysteries. Readers will love its main character and will enjoy her captivating interviews.