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Blind Side: 06/02/08
Blind Side by Penny Warner is a perfect example why I love BookCrossing. I snatched up the book based on the ties to the frog jumping contest and the fact that Penny Warner is a local author. What I hadn't expected, was that I'd end up finding a new favorite mystery author in the process. But that's exactly what happened!
Blind Side takes place in Flat Skunk, a fictional California town in Calaveras county with a name typical of the old mining sites. This little town, though, survived boom and bust of the gold rush era and is clunking along like so many of the small mountain towns. In the days before the annual frog jumping contest inspired by Mark Twain's Story, frogs and then a frog trainer are found dead.
Connor Westphal's friend and coworker Miah is accused of the murder. Refusing to believe that he'd be capable of killing a rival and to seek out a story for the Eureka! paper, Westphal sets out to find the true killer.
Blind Side could easily have been like any of a number of cozy mysteries. It has all the usual trappings: a small town, a civilian sleuth, quirky characters and a relatively short page count. The book though, goes beyond the cozy subgenre at the strength of its lead character. Connor Westphal is deaf and her deafness tosses out many of the typical mystery conventions (like the overheard conversation). Instead, the cliches are replaced interesting details about deafness: nuances of ASL, TTY etiquette, misunderstanding spoken slang, and the pitfalls of lip reading.
As this book is the fifth in the series, Warner mixes things up a bit by introducing a blind character, Del Oro, who forces Connor to rethink her own preconceptions of the world. The two women, though, hit it off and end up making a good sleuthing team.
I've actually purposely skipped over the secondary mystery. I want to save some of the mystery for anyone who hasn't read the book yet. If you're looking for a new mystery series to try, I highly recommend Blind Side. I will be looking for earlier books in the series to read.
The Connor Westphal series so far is as follows: