Jesse Clarke is just starting out in the private investigation business. So when a car explodes right outside the cafe where she’s breakfasting, it seems like the perfect opportunity to gain her second-ever client. Her second case leads to a third and she soon finds herself juggling two clients and two mysteries – both of which involve a seemingly-harmless substance: sugar.

Death by Sugar is an enjoyable and accessible whodunnit with a likeable lead. The fact that Jesse is still learning the ropes of her new career makes her more accessible to the reader. She feels fallible and is thus likeable; one can identify with her fears and cheer her on as she slowly unravels the mysteries surrounding her two cases.

The supporting cast of the novel is also good. Jesse’s partner, Dom, provides a glimpse of her personal life and allows for a hint of a romantic side-plot. Another human touch is added through references to Jesse’s dog, Atlas – styled after the author’s own canine companion, it seems! Police officer Jason Abingdon was the stand-out for me, however, when it came to the lesser characters. He is rounded and likeable and I hope he’s a planned inclusion in further Jesse Clarke mysteries.

Without giving too much away, both of the cases dealt with in Death by Sugar were absorbing, with enough red-herrings to keep the reader guessing alongside the protagonist. Interest is added through the inclusion of one very current case and one very cold one. It kept me wondering whether perhaps they were linked through more than sugar.

When it comes to the writing itself, there were a few typos and grammatical errors in my review copy, but these will likely be fixed up in the release edition. Goltz’s style is chatty and fast-paced, with realistic dialogue and an underlying sense of humour. Her informal tone is perfect for the genre, as the reader is encouraged to focus on the plot, rather than the writing itself.

I very much enjoyed Death by Sugar and hope that there are further Jesse Clarke mysteries in the works.

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)