I am listening to the backlist of Annelise Ryan catching up on her Mattie Winston series. The earlier books are just being released on audio and I am enjoying listening to them. These books are classified as cozy mysteries, but there are a couple of things some readers might not like. There is a lot of sexual tension in these stories and some language surrounding that. There are also a lot of gruesome descriptions of bodies and injuries during autopsies and body discoveries. I still really enjoy this series and look forward to catching up on the books I missed along the way.

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Scared Stiff (Mattie Winston Mystery #2) by Annelise Ryan, Jorjeana Marie (Narrator)

Published  August 1st 2011 by Kensington, October 19th 2021 by Tantor Audio

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In the second book in the Mattie Winston Mystery series, we find Mattie learning more about her new role as Deputy Coroner. It is Halloween, and she and Izzy are called to a grizzly scene where they find waitress and part-time model Shannon Tolliver dead amidst her Halloween decorations on the front lawn. Shannon and her husband Erik recently separated and there were many witnesses to their recent, very public, argument. That puts Erik at the top of the suspect list. Mattie knows Erik, and knows how much he loves his wife. Not only does she want to find the real killer, but asks her brother-in-law, Lucien to defend him.

The story picks up almost where the last one leaves off, and although not necessary to read these books in order, it would be helpful to follow the character development and relationships. There is a lot I like about this series. First, Mattie is a larger woman, not the gorgeous, skinny minis I often read about. She is also somewhat of a klutz and finds herself on the ground, covered in things, or in some tricky situations. She certainly makes me smile and laugh which I enjoy. Steve Hurley, the detective she works with likes Mattie just the way she is and there are several sexual undertones to the story. Their dialogue is also pretty hilarious. For these reasons, as well as some of the discussion of gruesome injuries, it probably crosses the cozy line for many people. The mystery itself is a difficult one, and I had no idea who the killer was or why. I also like that there is not just one case, as they are also dealing with a vehicle accident. Mattie also has to get a new vehicle after a car accident and ends up buying a hearse, as that is all she can afford. The hearse itself is involved in some pretty funny situations. If you enjoy a fun and humorous mystery, something along the lines of Stephanie Plum, then you will enjoy this series. The older books are just being produced on audio and I am enjoying listening to the ones I missed. Jorjeana Marie narrates the series. She gives good voices to several of the characters, but the male voices all sound the same, which sometimes confused me. Overall she has a pleasant voice to listen to and adds good expression to the story.

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Lucky Stiff (Mattie Winston Mystery #4) by Annelise Ryan, Jorjeana Marie (Narrator)

Published March 4th 2013 by Kensington, October 19, 2021 by Tantor Audio

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Another interesting and difficult mystery for Deputy Coroner Mattie Winston and Detective Steve Hurley to unravel and solve. It’s Christmas Day and Mattie has been called to the scene of a housefire where they find a burnt body. It is the homeowner, who is a paraplegic, as well as a rather wealthy man having recently won a half million dollars at the casino as well as a payout from the accident that injured him. When the autopsy proves it was murder, the investigation reveals several things. He has a new girlfriend whose previous wealthy husband died mysteriously and left her with a couple million, a neighbour borrowed money to pay off his mortgage and his nephew is squatting in an abandoned building with no money to find a place to stay. Did any of these characters kill Jack Allen. Also dealing with another case of a fisherman who went out on his boat and disappeared, whose body just floated ashore. Mattie and Steve are kept hopping for sure, but also attending a forensics conference that ends up being the trip from you know where, and Izzy telling Mattie that a relationship with Hurley could cost her her job. Lots happening, but easy to follow.

Wow, this was my favourite in the series so far. There is a lot going on and the investigation was interesting and kept me guessing. There was no shortage of suspects and several red herrings. The trip to the conference was one I was glad I wasn’t on. From a damaged plane, to lost luggage, a flat tire and a visit to the hospital after standing in a fire ant hill and being bitten so many times that she went into anaphalaxis shock, it was one thing after another. The tension between Hurley and Mattie continues to build in this book, but Mattie is adamant that their feelings can’t go anywhere. I really enjoyed how the cases are solved and the reveals are made, surprising me once again. The ending to this book had my jaw drop and I am glad I have the next one ready to go as I need to see what happens next. Once again, Jorjeana Marie narrated this audiobook. As I said with the last one, her voice is good for the basic story and Mattie’s voice as well as the other female characters, but it is still difficult to differentiate between the male characters.