Deadly Summer and Blazing Summer are books #7 and #8 in my 20 Books of Summer 2022 Challenge. Although they have “Summer” in the title, it is because of the main characters name. These are mysteries, with Summer Butler working as a PI for a reality television show. They are not quite cozy mysteries, but have a lot of the characteristics. It seems like these might be the only two, but I would love to read more Darling Investigations if the author were to continue the series.

Deadly Summer (Darling Investigations #1) by Denise Grover Swank, Megan Tusing (Narrator)

Published January 9th 2018 by Brilliance Audio, Montlake Romance

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Deadly Summer introduces us to Summer Butler, who was once the star of teenage television series about a teenage sleuth, called “Gotcha”. After the series ended and her mother absconded with most of her money, Summer needs work, badly. At a meeting with a producer, she is hounded by fans and physically attacks a man who won’t leave her alone. She is offered a job, working as a PI in a new reality TV show, the catch being it is to be filmed and set in her home town where she hasn’t been since she was a teenager. Her mother has returned and built a large home. She works training girls for beauty pageants and remarried. Summer has never told anyone her mother stole from her and ruined her career, so you know there will be issues there. Summer’s cousin, Dixie, spent two years in juvie, for setting a fire that killed her parents and grandfather, but Summer and her brother Teddy believe she either didn’t do it, or it was an accident. When Summer stumbles on a dead body, Darling Investigations becomes a bit more real. Will Summer be able to make a go of her new show? Will she be able to reconcile with her family?

This was a fun cozy mystery story. Summer has a lot of history and baggage dealing with her family and hometown. The cases that her director, Lauren, dug up for her were hilarious and somewhat bogus, but Summer finds a case of her own. She meets up with police chief Luke Montgomery, her first love and one she has never gotten over. They end up having to work together and there are definitely sparks there. Lauren sets up situations trying to make Summer look bad, but they often backfire. There is humour, but also some serious themes as well. Family reconciliation is a big part of the story, as well as how parents take advantage of their children and their talents. There is murder, drugs, extortion and corruption, that all get solved in the big case that Summer solves on the side. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Megan Tusing. She did accents well and added expression and emotion to her voices. Her male voices were not the best, but I did enjoy the audio version of this story.

Blazing Summer (Darling Investigations #2) by Denise Grover Swank, Megan Tusing (Narrator)

Published June 5th 2018 by Brilliance Audio, Montlake Romance

4.5 Stars:

Darling Investigations has been renewed for a couple of seasons, and Summer finds herself working once again with Lauren, the director who dislikes her for some reason. This season, Lauren has brought in a co-star, another detective who works his own cases, out of his own office. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, except it is Lauren’s co-star from her Gotcha series, someone who also helped destroy her career, someone she dislikes immensely. Lauren feeds him the “good” cases while giving Summer and Dixie the ridiculous ones, like an alligator eating someone’s chickens. Once again, there is family turmoil, Dixie being suspected of arson and murder, Luke and Summer trying to figure out where their relationship is going and one real case that Summer investigates on the side involving drugs, murder, arson and someone who is setting up Dixie due to her past. Will Summer be able to find out what is really going on to exonerate Dixie?

I enjoyed this book even more than the first one. Summer’s cousins, Dixie and Teddy, play a large role in this story and I love how the family sticks together. The story starts with a couple of arsons that cause destruction of property, but when a third results in a dead body things get more serious. Summer once again uses her instincts, questioning ability, friendships, and flattery to suss out what is really going on. This small town is rife with suspects, drugs, and sketchy characters. Luke is a smart, honest police chief, but you can’t say the same for all of them. When the mayor influences council to hire his son, who is arrogant and power hungry, you know there will be problems. There is more than one jurisdiction involved in the cases, so Luke has to stay out of some of it, but Summer doesn’t. With the help of her trusty crew, she is able to get video taped confessions to various crimes. There is a bit more romance in this one and Summer and Luke are officially a couple, which I enjoyed. There is danger, humour, romance, family dramatics and some resolution of Dixie’s past, all written into an entertaining and suspenseful murder mystery. I am worried this is the last of the series, but would love to see another Darling Investigations story. Once again, Megan Tusing does a nice job with the narration of the story. I love the voices she uses for Summer and Dixie. Her tone, expression and emotion are well done and added to my enjoyment of the story.