ARC Review: Dead in the Water by S.C. Merritt

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A cute cosy mystery with irresistible dogs and likable senior leads.

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation found in this book, check out its page on!

Premise (from Amazon)

They say opposites attract. The only thing these two unlikely friends seem to be a magnet for is murder.

When Maisie Mitchell sold her restaurant and retired to sunny Florida, she couldn’t wait to get out of the kitchen and do absolutely nothing except enjoy lazy days by the pool.

Thirty-five years with the Chicago Police Department was enough for detective Donna “Dot” Pinetta. She was ready to escape the daily stress of big city crime and retire under a palm tree with a tall glass of something cold and a little paper umbrella.

But, as these two friends soon find out, retirement can get a little, shall we say, tiring? Sometimes you just need a vacation from your vacation. Maisie and Dot concoct an exciting plan of hitting all the destinations on their bucket lists, but when the dead body of handsome recreation director, Mason Jacobs is discovered floating in their own little piece of paradise, chaos ensues. Maisie and Dot’s plan for adventure gets shoved to the back burner when a good friend tops the suspect list and Dot jumps back into detective mode dragging Maisie along with her.

With a millionaire, an aging beauty queen and a jealous husband among the long list of suspects, can they expose the real killer and clear their friend’s name? Or will their first road trip be to the prison on visitor’s day?

Dead in the Water is the first book in a brand, new series by cozy author, S.C. Merritt. Join Maisie and Dot on their travels in the Bucket List Mysteries.

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

Review (No Spoilers)

Thank you Stephanie (@bookfrolic) and S.C. Merritt for providing me with a digital eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Around a year ago I decided to start trying to read cozy mysteries. I honestly didn’t even know about this sub-genre until I noticed the cozy mystery section in Barnes & Noble with covers fill with cats, dogs, baked goods, and hilarious murder puns. I think I’ve read around 5 at this point, so I’m slowly making my way into the genre!

This novel follows two older woman (I think they’re both in their 60s): an ex cop and an ex restaurant owner. I’m not sure why, but I really enjoyed that aspect of their partnership. Dot, the ex cop, is a no-nonsense, hard-working woman. Maisie, our main character and local cooking instructor, has a more kind and nurturing personality. Their opposing personalities tend to even each other out as they work together to solve a murder that occurs in their retirement community. Not only that, but both of them have DOGS. I’m a huge dog person (despite having a cat) so I love when dogs are featured in stories. Much like their owners, the dogs also have opposite personalities and it was a joy to watch them interact with each other.

I do want to mention early on in this review that this book is a Christian cozy mystery, just in case reading Christian novels aren’t your thing. The only real influence this has on the book though is when Maisie does her daily devotion in which a verse is quoted from the Bible. It happens around three times and is easily-skippable, so I don’t think it will be a big problem for readers who aren’t Christian. There’s no religious bigotry or anything like that to worry about.

In general cozy mysteries aren’t the most realistic of the contemporary genres, but I think that’s part of the fun. It’s nice to believe that a rag-tag team of random citizens can come together to solve a crime before the police do. It’s basically a genre dedicated to the underdogs of the world and I love that.

There were really only two things that concerned me when it came to the plot in this book. The first was the fact that the woman in charge of the community is a HUGE security risk. She holds sensitive and confidential files on all of the residents but doesn’t seem to care all that much about keeping them confidential. At one point she even mentions that the records could be used to steal these resident’s identities right before readily sharing the information with the two main characters. I know we are supposed to trust that our two leads are innocent and all that but I put the book down and was like isn’t this illegal or something??

The second was that the ending was a bit too rushed for my tastes. The book itself is very short and a quick read, so I think that there could have been more time spent on the big reveal at the end. In fact the characters were so sure that they had their perp despite not having…like…any legitimate evidence.

Regardless, Dead in the Water was a joy to read and was a wonderful introduction to the Bucket List Mysteries series. I’m a bit sad that the rest of the series will probably leave the lovable side characters we met in this book behind, but I also can’t wait to see what these two women experience next!

Dead in the Water comes out on July 27, but you can preorder your copy today!

Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

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