Book Review + Interview — Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

1 Jul

When exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake moves into a carriage house in tony Greenwich, Connecticut, she’s hoping to find some new clients. Instead she discovers a corpse in the garden — and a knack for solving murders . . .

Pet-sitter Belinda Blake doesn’t rattle easily, but move-in day has been eventful, to say the least. The python in her care tried to slither to freedom — just as she met Stone Carrington V, her landlords’ disarmingly handsome son. With the constrictor back in its cage, she heads out to the garden, only to discover a designer shoe poking out of the boxwood hedge — attached to a woman’s dead body.

The victim, Margo Fenton, was a Carrington family friend, and no one in their circle seems above suspicion. Between client trips to Manhattan and visits to her family in upstate New York, Belinda begins to put the pieces together. But though she’s falling for Stone’s numerous charms, Belinda wonders if she’s cozying up to a killer. And soon, daily contact with a deadly reptile might be the least dangerous part of her life.

My Impressions:

I am a big fan of Heather Day Gilbert’s mysteries. Her Murder in The Mountains series is one of my all-time favorites in the genre. Her newest endeavor is sure to become another fan favorite. Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass, book 1 in the Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery series, introduces the reader to a wonderful character who manages to insert herself into all the murderous goings-on around her. Belinda is a fun character, independent, with a unique style, who has chosen unconventional pathways to a career. She freelances reviews of video games while being the go-to caretaker for very unusual pets. In this first novel, she is pet-sitting a python — clearly not a cuddly creature — which takes some stamina and grit to attend to. Belinda’s earnest and sometimes naive view on the world is endearing. I loved Belinda’s first person insights of the wealthy of Greenwich, Connecticut. She is mostly spot on in her estimation of the other characters. But, she can be fooled! The mystery takes off from the start as Belinda finds a body in her flower bed and continues as she joins the heir of the manor in finding out whodunit. When Belinda finds herself all on her own, the reader discovers the depths of her intuition and ingenuity. I didn’t quite have the mystery solved; Gilbert managed to surprise me with several twists and turns. I loved that! The mystery is resolved in the first book, but there is much more to come for Belinda, including a possible love interest or two. I am looking forward to joining Belinda on more adventures.

If you are looking for a great cozy mystery, get in on the ground floor of the Belinda Blake series. A fun puzzler, Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass gets a recommended rating from me.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

I am excited to welcome Heather Day Gilbert to By The Book today. I am a big favorite of her mysteries and Viking sagas. Yes, Vikings! Thanks so much, Heather for visiting with us.

I read in your dedication of Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass that your father first came up with the stories featuring Belinda and Katrina when you were a child. How did you expand on those to get to the current all grown up Belinda? 

I’m so glad you read that dedication — it was a very special one to me, because my dad had a widow maker heart attack last April that was out of nowhere. Thankfully, they were able to get four stents in and he’s doing well now, but it made me think about how grateful I was for those stories he made up for my two brothers and me on long car trips! Belinda and Katrina and their dog, Blitz, got into many childish adventures in Dad’s stories, and I wanted to use those characters and their sense of adventure for this series. Belinda and Katrina sort of came to life in front of me—their haircolor, their personalities (which are sort of opposite), and more.

Snakes send shivers up my spine. Do you have personal experience with slithery reptiles or did you have to do research for the snake, Rasputin, featured in the book? 

I’m not a snake person, either, but I did get much more comfy with the idea of touching one as I watched YouTube videos of ball python owners. Ball pythons are actually shorter than boas, and they come in many different colors. The ball python Belinda’s pet-sitting is black and gold (you can see pictures and even a link to one of the YouTube ball python videos I watched on my Pinterest board here). And this particular python, Rasputin, really did grow on me as I wrote the book — as it grew on Belinda.

Cozy mysteries involve quirky characters, a bit of fun, and often murder. How difficult is it to balance all the elements in that genre? 

I kind of think of myself as an author who likes to delve into characters and make them 3D, so the quirky character part kind of comes naturally. We ALL have some kinds of quirks, no matter how normal we appear at first blush. The humor has to come from my amateur sleuths themselves, and luckily, Belinda has a cute mix of naiveté and wry humor that comes out in what she thinks and says. She’s also more of an optimist than her sister, Katrina (who’s a psychologist and has seen the darker sides of human nature). 

And murder…well, I do love plotting a good murder and landing on the villain I don’t think readers will guess. I think growing up reading Agatha Christie helped me merge those three elements—if you read her books, sometimes they’ll have you laughing out loud, while sometimes, you’re on the edge of your seat because the creep factor is high!

What awaits Belinda in upcoming books in the series?

Ooh, I’m so glad you asked! I already have the preorder/cover up for Book 2, Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, and that one was even MORE of a blast to write, because I love wolves and it’s set at a wolf preserve. 😉 Book 3 is titled Belinda Blake and the Birds of a Feather, and it’ll feature homing pigeons, so that also required quite a bit of research. And Belinda will run into some interesting murderers in both books. 

Find out more about Heather Day Gilbert:

 

Heather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.”

Find Heather on Pinterest (heatherdgilbert), Instagram (@heatherdaygilbert), Twitter (@heatherdgilbert), and Facebook (heatherdaygilbert). You can find all her books at heatherdaygilbert.com.

4 Responses to “Book Review + Interview — Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert”

  1. Heather Day Gilbert (@heatherdgilbert) July 1, 2019 at 9:13 pm #

    Thank you so much for the review, Beckie! I’m so pleased you enjoyed Belinda!

    Like

  2. carhicks July 7, 2019 at 12:43 pm #

    I enjoyed the interview. I love getting to know the authors when I read their books. This one sounds fun. Great review, Beckie.

    Like

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