I was so engrossed in solving these mysteries, I never stopped reading until I had to. I had reached the end.
This is a clean smart story.
Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk: A Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Cozy Cat Press (August 28, 2013)
E-Book File Size: 697 KB
Jeremiah Milk lived a life filled with emotional extremes. Amniotic band syndrome—a congenital condition—left his fingers and toes malformed. Ridiculed as a child, he became an adolescent hermit. As an adult, Jeremiah’s wounds healed when he landed a position as a park ranger and married a woman who loved him despite his physical appearance. But fate ripped his life to shreds when his wife and infant son died on the same night in separate calamities. Shortly thereafter, the tides turned once more as an act of Jeremiah’s ostensible benevolence translates into a financial boon. The book on Jeremiah’s life closes without mercy when he’s found murdered at Tripping Falls State Park.
Damon Lassard—Hollydale’s loveable civic leader, amateur sleuth, and Jeremiah’s neighbor—springs into action. He’s obstructed by a prickly lieutenant, but wriggles information unknown to the police from a colorful bevy of suspects. Aided by his best friend Rebecca and his reluctant ally Detective Gerry Sloman, Damon engineers a deep dive into Jeremiah’s past to solve the crime. Along the way, Damon strengthens his relationship with the breathtaking Bethany Krims, cracks a local horticultural mystery, and tries in vain to tame his wickedly sarcastic mother.
STEPHEN KAMINSKI is the author of the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series published by Cozy Cat Press. The first two cozy mysteries in the series are “It Takes Two to Strangle” (2012) and “Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk” (2013). Stephen is the winner of the 2012 Reader Views Literary Award for the Mid-Atlantic Region. He’s a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School, has practiced law for over a decade, and currently serves as Senior Vice President and General Counsel to a national non-profit organization. Stephen is a lifelong lover of all types of mysteries and lives with his wife and daughter in Arlington, Virginia.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Just when I don’t think there could be another unbelievable cozy mystery, I am proven wrong. I had never heard of Amniotic Band Syndrome before I read this book, and I love the fact that this is a mystery with a message. I honestly don’t believe I have ever read a mystery that dealt with such serious issues of depression, bullying, and retribution. Again, I was so drawn into this story that I nearly read it all in one sitting.
There is no sex in the book (so glad that is becoming a trend), and the profanity was minimal but sometimes what I would describe as “hardcore.” I didn’t find myself overly offended since the profanity was not overly used. I found the characters delightful, and even though this was the second book in the series, I had no problem connecting with the characters.
The web of intrigue that the author spun was immensely crafted, and even though I somewhat had it figured out, I continued to be surprised right along with Damon. He was either diabolically clever, immeasurably stupid, or a splendid combination of the two. I do believe that all loose ends were tied up satisfactorily, and I believe that the author accomplished his dual purpose of storytelling and education. I was horrified to discover that school children can still be so cruel and completely devastate one for life. And when retribution turns the victim into a bully, I truly felt a sense of hopelessness. I doubt that bullying will ever come to an end in this world, but I do hope and pray that we are more aware of it. I will never look at a person with missing digits (or something else) quite the same way now that I know this is a genuine birth defect.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Guest Blog by th Author
The Ethics of Amateur Sleuthing
In the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series, my protagonist (Damon) is inclined—as is any good-hearted citizen crime-solver—to meddle in police business. Such interference lies at the heart of most cozy mysteries. After all, how else is the loveable hero supposed to solve those pesky murders that the blundering police can’t seem to figure out. I’m neither a philosopher nor an ethicist, but in this post I’m going to give a shot at examining the ethics of Damon’s antics.
I’d describe Damon’s situation as a “Right versus Right” dilemma. Damon knows that as an amateur, he’ll have access to information that detectives may not be able to glean because he’s not bound by the legalities that constrain the police (assuming his ignorance of the rules of evidence) and he knows that suspects will be less dubious of subtle questioning from a fellow townsperson. Accordingly, he’s acting in a manner that can be characterized as “right” because he has the ability to assist in ways unavailable to the authorities. On the other hand, one could also argue that acting “right” is to mind one’s business and allow the police to do their jobs without interference. Damon struggles internally with this “Right versus Right” dilemma—he objectively recognizes that he should leave the job to the professionals but lacks the self-discipline to leave well enough alone knowing the good he can do.
There are many ways to view such a Right versus Right dilemma from an ethics vantage point, including via: consequence-based thinking (Utilitarianism), rule-based thinking (Kant), and care-based thinking (the Golden Rule).
Utilitarianism would guide a decision based on doing what’s best for the greatest number of people; it’s the consequence of the act (the result) that is the most important. Using this ethical philosophy, Damon and amateurs like him should continue to sleuth ahead with gusto. Society as a whole (and Damon’s entire Hollydale community) benefit from his interference in that murderers are swept off of the streets with greater expediency than when the police are unaided by the amateur. Any negatives (i.e., disrupting police protocol) are minimal in comparison. (There is a caveat—if the amateur goes too far and a criminal is set free because evidence was obtained improperly, any benefit derived from the amateur’s actions is not only obliterated but there is the monumentally negative impact of the criminal being allowed to roam the streets.)
Kantian logic dictates that one must decide what to do based on rules or principles that are set by governing bodies. Kant would direct Damon and his brethren to butt out. Police are charged with investigating crimes, not citizens.
The Golden Rule requires one to decide what to do based on what you would want others to do to you. This perspective could push Damon either way. He wouldn’t want the police stepping into his personal business, so he shouldn’t encroach on theirs. The opposite view is that if someone he loved was murdered, he’d want the culprit to be caught regardless of who pieced together the puzzle—police or an amateur. So application the Golden Rule in this case is complicated by who is on the flip side of the coin—the police or the loved ones of the deceased.
In sum, the successful but nuisance-inducing amateur sleuth may or may not be ethically justified in digging about for clues and interviewing suspects without permission—it all depends on which ethical point of view you adopt. While you figure out which you lean toward, because I love Damon’s creativity and unorthodox nature he’ll keep right on investigating until somebody makes him stop (either the police or my publisher).
Join Damon in It Takes Two to Strangle and Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk from 2012 Literary Views Award-Winning Author, Stephen Kaminski.
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