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Publisher's Summary

Welcome to the village of Arroyo Loco, populated with quirky new friends, irrepressible pets, and enough mysteries to keep everyone busy. Governed by a dysfunctional homeowners' association (aren't they all?) the residents of Arroyo Loco learn to work together as they puzzle through the perils they encounter.

©2014 Cherie O'Boyle (P)2017 Cherie O'Boyle

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I thoroughly loved it.

I thoroughly loveed listening to this audiobook. it is a fairly fast paced mystery that is very fun. The author did an exceptional job of writing the book. The narrator does a wonderful job of reading this audiobook.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A great cozy mystery

This is a very good read. A very engrossing mystery. The setting is Arroyo Loco which is a little city that is positioned between San Francisco and San Diego. It's about an arson and when investigating a body, Will, is found in the rubble. The hunt is on. The main character Estela is a psychologist who takes it upon herself to investigate. She works at the university. which is nearby so she can investigate her neighbors easily. Can't forget the dogs. They are wonderful. A great light and sometimes humorous read/listen. Enjoyed very much. I would listen to it again. The narrator did a wonderful job with the voices of the characters. She was able to make the men's voices feel real instead of a woman portraying a man. I would like to listen to her read a book again. I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Strong characterizations here

Estela Nogales is taking a walk with her dogs when the house of her neighbor, Will Rosenblum, catches fire in Fire at Will's by Cherie O'Boyle. A resident of one of about 20 houses in the small community of Arroyo Loco along the California coast, Estela helps to get the fire extinguished, but soon someone finds a gas can close to the house, so it looks like arson. Then the volunteer fire department members found a body inside the building, lying on the bed and burnt to a crisp. Will must have been either dead or unconscious when the fire was set.

Because Estela was walking her dogs, two sweet border collies, Shiner and Scout, near Will's house around the time she comes under suspicion by some in Arroyo Loco, so she has incentive to look into the case. The day after the fire, her neighbor Sunshine gets a strange envelope that contains photographs of their neighbor Wally fondling the young girl Sophia, infuriating the community and making them certain that if Wally is a pedophile, he must be the arsonist. But Estela has to investigate to find the truth.

I really enjoyed listening to Fire at Will's and not just because I know the area where the book takes place nor because I was thrilled with Estela's devotion to her Giants cap. The book has a lot of fun humor to it, not laugh-out-loud humor, but the clever humor of a witty narrator. For example, Arroyo Loco has the craziest homeowner's association, where locals are required to attend meetings and sit in a circle, but in which there are rules against rolling one's eyes, lifting one's eyebrows, or otherwise expressing disapproval of activities. The association has a committee on what changes one may make to one's home, with just one voting member. And everything seems to be banned.

I enjoyed the storyline of this book, with fun details of Estela's investigations and adventures. The mystery has some interesting points to it, though it didn't keep me in as much suspense as I might expect, as I was able to guess at least part of the murder solution. But the fun of the book is less in the actual mystery than in its journey. The trip taken by Estela to find the solution and understand what is truly going on becomes fascinating and drew me into the story.

The book is narrated by Estela, the first cozy mystery I can think of to be narrated and maybe even to focus on a Latina or even a Latino. I further appreciated the fact that this Latina is well-educated as a psychologist. She gives insight into real situations, such as the way an abused wife gets slowly sucked into her husband's clutches or what experts think about pedophilia. The book concludes with a message about the value of friendship and the need for those in the community to support each other, as well as the fact that everyone has secrets from her or his past.

I really appreciated the various characters whom we meet in Arroyo Loco. Each one has unique features, showing great diversity among the residents. We see the diva Helen, the European baker Freda, the scary Delia, and the always cheerful Sunshine. It shows how true community consists of people who support each other, despite their differences.

Hillarie Mukavitz aptly performs the audiobook of Fire at Will's with a highly believable Latina accent. She truly seems to embody the character of Estela as she performs this book. She uses not just the Latina accent for Estela but also an Anglo accent for other characters and a German(?) accent for Freda, the European baker in the community.

I had a great experience listening to Fire at Will's and traveling life alongside Estela. I enjoyed her community of Arroyo Loco and everyone Estela connects with, including the teen whom we first meet when he comes to her aid when she gets stuck in a canyon behind her house. This book is much more than a mystery, but rather an experience in life, albeit a slightly strange one. I give this book four stars.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the author through Audiobook BOOM, but that in no way affected the content of my review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jan
  • MKE
  • 04-24-18

Neighbors can be very interesting!

arson, friendship, murder, investigation, snarky, cozy-mystery, neighbors, pets
In a distant neighborhood with little working Internet, the idiosyncrasies of a group of neighbors seem magnified. The characters are all a little squirrelly and a whole lot laugh worthy. Estella is great fun and so are her dogs and she copes with the goofy neighbors a lot better than I would! First there's the arson, then the body is discovered, the wife of the household seems unreachable, and then there's the photos. The plot is good but the characters really make it, along with the snarks of course! I really enjoyed it!
I requested and received a free audio copy through AudioBookBOOM.
Hilarie Muskavitz gave a really good narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Burn, Baby, Burn

Fire at Will's
An Estela Nogales Mystery

This is a fast paced cozy murder mystery that features a HOA with many different types of people. There are secrets that might point a guilty finger at any of them. A touch of humor and some amateur detective work brings it all together...... almost, but it left the way open for more books and mysteries to solve.

The narration was well done. The characters were well portrayed. Hilarie Mukavitz made this an easy listen.



I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An engaging reading of a smart mystery!

I can’t say enough about the quality both of the recording and of Mukavitz’s ability to shift from character to character, giving each a unique and entertaining voice. She even does the male voices credibly, so her range from high to low is tremendous.
There are a lot of characters in this book which can make it a little hard to keep track of them all, despite the accents and voice changes. It might be easier to remember all the residents of Arroyo Loco in the print version, but it didn’t effect my enjoyment of the recording as five or six main characters appeared repeatedly making it easier to recall who they were. The mystery is intelligently written, and Estela’s wry humor comes through nicely in the audio version.
I’ve read most of the series, and continue to believe that these books are among the best light mysteries available. O’Boyle is a talented writer, her plots always puzzle, and her characters are charming. Highly recommended for fans of mysteries that are more on the relaxed side.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Neighbors can be deadly!

I love cozy mysteries and this one caught my eye for several reasons. It involves a Homeowner's Association that want to control everything (I live with such a group). It is set in a Southwest-type neighborhood (I live in New Mexico and can relate). And, it has dogs on the cover.

Estela Nogales lives in a community called Arroyo Loco (because of a spelling error, but the new name fits). When her neighbor's house catches fire and burns to the ground, the whole community wants to know what caused it. The discovery of a body inside starts the tongues wagging.

The owner of the house, Will Rosenblum, is the most disliked man in the area. Any of his neighbors could have killed him and someone did. Estela decides to try to solve the mystery and, in true cozy fashion, she sticks her nose into everybody's business in order to come to a solution.

I enjoyed the scenes in the book involving the HOA since I live in a similar situation. I can imagine our HOA coming up with a rule against "eye-rolling"! There are plenty of neighbors with their own secrets, a few really obnoxious ones with little to do except involve themselves in everything around them. And, I love the border collies, Scout and Shiner. I would have liked to have them more involved in the book.

The story is well-written and the characters come alive as the book progresses. Ms. O'Boyle is very descriptive and this adds a lot to the book.

Of course, our heroine gets into several scrapes before she solves the murder, but isn't that we have come to expect from a cozy mystery? This seems like an enjoyable beginning to a series that I plan to follow.

The narrator does a great job with the many voices required by the large cast of characters. Her rendition of Estela's Latina accent and Freyda's German/Austrian one are spot on! My only complaint is that there is an echo-type feel throughout much of the book.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

OK, but didn’t grab me.

Although I usually love cozy mysteries this one just didn’t have it for me. Basically it’s a weird little Neighborhood with a very strict homeowners association where all members of the neighborhood are members. Fire breaks out at the neighborhood bully‘s house and a body is found.Everybody has a motive yet somehow the characters fell a little short for me. The narration was OK sounded a little echoey. It wasn’t a bad story but it lacked the fun of a typical cozy. I received a free review copy of this book at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A hot time in the old town tonight!

Would you listen to Fire at Will's again? Why?

Fire at Will’s provides a stimulating listening adventure for audio book fans such as myself who enjoy “reading while driving.” I found it a lively and engaging story told from the first person view of Estela, one among a quirky and diverse community of folks who live along a canyon near the coast, midway between San Francisco and San Diego. Estela is a psychologist for a nearby university and as such is equipped to analyze the various idiosyncrasies of her neighbors, each of whom she considers as a possible arsonist of the fire at Will’s house. She offers up intriguing theories of the crime along with artfully dropped clues along the way. The narrator delivers the diverse community voices skillfully, particularly the ones with Spanish accents. A fun “read”!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful