Review: Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon

Posted March 2, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnonBel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon
Series: Belfast McGrath Mystery #2
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on March 7th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Bel McGrath loves her work as a wedding chef. But with her latest event set to take place at Shamrock Manor, she just can't seem to catch a break. The Casey wedding has left her with ten thousand greenbacks in the hole, a missing staff member, and a dead groom. Now, in between Guinness beers and pub brawls, Bel must find a way to crack the case--even though what she should be cracking are eggs into the batter of the wedding cake. A good Irish girl's work is never done. . .
What begins as local town fodder for an episode of "Wedding Gone Wild" is turning into "Gangsters with Guns." With the Casey family spiraling out of control, and billable McGrath hours being lost by the minute, Bel is definitely in too deep. With all these shenanigans, she barely has time to obsess over her new boyfriend and her own unsolved mystery from years ago! Time is running out on getting the next couple down the aisle before the so-called luck of the Irish takes a deadly turn... Bel of the Brawl will keep Maggie McConnon's fans, new and old, guessing.

When I first saw the blurb for Bel of the Brawl, I knew I had to read it. It’s a cozy mystery, set in a small town. It focuses on Bel and her family who owns the Shamrock Manor (seriously, I love the name) the family is also very Irish. I didn’t read book one, but I kind of get the feel for it in the second book. There has been a murder and Shamrock Manor is suffering a little because it’s a wedding place, so the brides and grooms have a bit of reservation when it comes to booking their wedding. It also doesn’t help that when they do book, Bel’s father gives them massive discounts.

After managing to book the wedding, despite some obvious concerns, things seem to go smoothly until the end of the wedding when Bel discovers the groom – dead in the women’s bathroom. Now the tip money from the wedding is missing, along with one their server’s, and Irish gangster’s are breaking into Bel’s apartment. Can she sort through all the lies flung at her and uncover the real killer?

This was a quick read. I really appreciated the quick short chapters, with my schedule it just seemed to work out well for me. What I liked most about this book is the sibling relationship between Bel and her brother Cargan. The two are very close in this book and are working on the mystery behind the murder and the disappearing banquet server together.

This book was filled with interesting characters, from Bel’s mother and father to her brothers. I really adored the family and the closeness and how they seem to look out for each other. I absolutely adore the way her mother complains about Bel’s cooking, because Bel likes to branch out and try thing that are outside of her parents or Irish comfort zone.

I followed Belfast (loved her name) as she sorted through the lies and was bold enough to approach some people that she never should have.

Also, there is a secondary ongoing mystery in this series with Bel’s long lost best friend Amy. A girl who disappeared years ago and seemed to have shaken the little town. In this book it seems remains have been uncovered and Kevin (Bel’s friend, ex boyfriend) believes that this might be Amy. New evidence has come to light about that night also that shake Bel’s world.

What didn’t I like?

I found myself a bit peeved at Bel and Kevin. In this book Kevin is also getting married to what seems to be a wonderful woman, but because of the connection they share over this mystery with their disappearing friend – Kevin and Bel find themselves in a lip lock not once but twice now. I guess, that bothers me a bit. Bel has some unresolved feelings for Kevin and Kevin seems to as well – but they are also indirectly hurting Kevin’s soon to be wife, who seems to be Bel’s friend and a wonderful person.

The pacing was interesting, but there seem to be a few things I was left unsure of. I wanted to know what happened to the Irish Gangster and the man that was helping him, Donnie.

The reveal was weird and also felt a bit anticlimactic. If you are looking for a cozy mystery that is really just a bit subdued – this will be for you. Also, I wasn’t sure I was 100% on the same page about the reason behind the murder.

But it was cozy, and it did feel like a page turner for me. I didn’t find this boring at all.

Overall, I loved the Irish family dynamics. I loved the secondary mystery lurking in the background and I enjoyed the authors laid back writing. This series comes with well fleshed out characters, some sibling love and an interesting mystery. I did enjoy following the clues and meeting the town locals. I am looking forward to seeing where this takes us next.

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21 responses to “Review: Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon

  1. I adore that title! This sounds like such a wonderful, cozy read; and I love when there’s a secondary mystery in the background. I’m definitely adding this to my list. Great review, Lily! Thanks so much for stopping by (btw, a pug and a Mastiff? That makes you all kinds of awesome in my book 😉 )

    • heh yeah I actually really enjoyed the on going secondary mystery in this book,s o kind waiting to see how that plays out. (oh and about 6 cats. I have quite the collection of pets XD)

  2. Hmm… I love a good cozy, but I am not a fan of the cheating, an it sounds like the end was a fizzle. Still, I love the sound of the setting and I adore all things Irish.

  3. Is this part of a series? Should I read book 1 before this?

    This genre is what got me into reading in the first place. Way before I discovered twilight (paranormal) and Fifty Shades (Contemporary). Way before any romances. I’ve been wanting to try a different genre for a while and get back to my ‘first love’ (mystery).
    I’ll look at this series. Great review, as always! 😀

  4. The setting and set up for the mystery sounds interesting, but I’m with you on Bel and Kevin’s kiss not being cool. They need to stay away on that stuff or he needs to break up with the other gal.

    I’ve recently picked up a few cozies and loved them so it might start being a favorite genre with me.

  5. I know what you mean, when a character is in a committed relationship you kind of expect them to be faithful… if there is something there, he owes it to his fiance to let her know. The mystery sounds good though!

  6. I’m not typically one to pick up mystery reads, but I can so see the appeal of this book Lily, the pacing and the setting sounds great too! I do feel sorry for Kevin’s fiance though, but would be intrigued to see how their relationship pans out. Thank you for putting this book on my radar!

  7. I haven’t heard of this series until now. It sounds like a lot of fun, though I would definitely share your discomfort with the Kevin-Bel relationship. Infidelity, even as mild as a kiss or two, isn’t something I’m comfortable seeing the main character involved in. But everything else sounds delightful and/or intriguing, so I may give them a try.

  8. I have not tried a cozy mystery yet, unless the Stephanie Plum series counts, but this is definitely a genre I want to dive more into.

  9. Belfast is an awesome name! I like an occasional cozy and this one sounds fun. And quick punchy chapters are good for keeping the story going (and great when you have limited reading time).

  10. In the blurb there’s a mention of a new boyfriend for Bel but then she’s kissing on an old beau, Kevin, who is engaged to someone else? And this fiancee is her friend as well? Not sure I’d like that situation. Can’t say I’ve read a cozy mystery before, I do like the sound of the setting and ongoing mystery. I’ll wait to hear how things pan out with the ex boyfriend and Bel before considering this. Fab review, Lily!

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