I had a great time reading this cosy mystery about a former horoscope writer and her involvement in the CCIA – Celebrity CIA. The characters have excellent chemistry between them and you can’t help liking Amber Reed, our amateur sleuth from the word go.
Light hearted and with a lovely touch of screwball comedy this is truly great fun. The plot revolves around a murder investigation that needs extra discretion. Amber knows the victim, so she is teamed up with the special agent. While cosy and entertaining, the mystery part is well done and keeps suspense and tension nicely up. I’m not surprised that this is the first in a successful series.
Here is an excerpt from an interview with Zanna on this blog:
Tell us about the concept behind your books. How did you get the idea?
I’m not sure where the idea came from to be honest – that’s often the case with me! Plots, concepts and characters pop into my head out of nowhere! The first series I created is centred on a former horoscope writer who ends up becoming an amateur sleuth purely by accident. She has to team up with a special agent who works for the CCIA. I thought it would be fun to take an established crime fighting organisation and put a spin on it, creating something that was a play on the official agency. I took the CIA and got the idea of the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency, otherwise known as the CCIA! It’s an elite agency used by famous people when they have a crime they need solving. The second series is a spin off from the first and is called Celebrity Mysteries. I intended the first book (Murder On The Menu) to be a standalone spin –off but my editor liked the characters so much she convinced me to make it into a series. The Celebrity Mysteries follow ex-CCIA-agent-turned-private-investigator Jack and wannabe baker and amateur sleuth Lizzie as they take on cases for famous people who visit the trendy tourist hotspot area where they live.
Tell us about your Detective / main character.
Both of my series contain two key characters who are in a relationship, one an amateur sleuth, the other a professional. In the Amber Reed books, Amber is a nosy, stubborn young woman with some self-esteem issues and a love of custard tart cakes. She becomes involved with CCIA special agent Charlie who is a charming workaholic with romance issues. In the Celebrity Mystery series, it’s Lizzie who is desperate to be able to bake like her Aunt Molly used to so she can continue in the family tradition of suppling baked goods to the local store to earn some much-needed cash to make ends meet. She gets pulled into working with her new neighbour and ex-CCIA special agent Jack (who is funny, smart and sexy) when her celebrity chef boss is murdered and Lizzie becomes a suspect.
What is more important in your books – the plot twists or the characters?
I think they are both equally important. The plot needs to have enough going on to keep people reading but the characters have to be likeable enough for the reader to care what happens to them, so they keep reading!
Is there such a thing as cosy in murder mystery?
Yes, definitely. I would describe my books as cosy in the murder mystery sense. There is no violence or gore and the focus is firmly on the various aspects of the mystery and solving the puzzle, not the unpleasant side of things.
Do you include humour?
Absolutely. My books are all lightheaded for most of the time. There are serious moments along the way in terms of relationship issues and the mystery side of things, but there’s plenty of comedy too.
What are you working on now?
A new series of paranormal romantic comedy mysteries. There are witches and vampires, a mysterious setting in the Scottish Glens and lots of intrigue, humour and romance. The prequel novella and the first book should be out this summer.
What makes you laugh?
I love sitcoms like Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, Home Improvement, Frasier and The New Adventures of Old Christine. I also enjoy comedy drama series like Brothers & Sisters, The Gilmore Girls, Parenthood and White Collar.
Who are your favourite authors?
There are so many! OK, here goes, Caroline Fardig, Sarah Louise Smith, Kristen Painter, Jane Lovering, Carole Matthews, Belinda Jones. I could go on and on with this list!
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I’m reading Caroline Fardig’s Mug Shot (Java Jive mystery book 3). It’s brilliant. I’ve read all of her books.
Series buy link for the Amber Reed books: http://viewbook.at/AmberSeries
Buy link for the first book in Celebrity Mystery series: http://viewbook.at/MurderMenu
Zanna Mackenzie lives in the UK on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.
She can often be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on and loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!
Find out more about Zanna:
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10703273-zanna-mackenzie
Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zanna-Mackenzie/e/B00BKY1A18/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0