“Last Call” by Paula Matter opens with a confession by the main character, Maggie Lewis that sets the tone for the rest of the book:
“Refusing a ride back to the VFW was maybe the stupidest thing I’d done that morning. But, if Bobby Lee thought I was riding in the back seat of his police cruiser twice in one day… All of this— the murder, my arrest— may have started at work two nights ago”
Thus, we find Maggie, in debt, short on cash, working as a grumpy bartender at the local VFW. On a typical Friday night, the usual “aging” veterans spend their time annoying each other and drinking beer. They play tricks on each other, and one member takes extensive notes to keep track of who is there who is not, and who pays. The scene plays out day after day, week after week until one of the VFW members turns up dead, the note taker. The police collect evidence, review alarm code access to the VFW hall, look for suspects, and finally settle on one.
“Maggie, I need to take you down to the station for questioning in the murder of Jack Hoffman.”
That search for answers turns up more questions, and along the way unearths past military, PTSD, and hometown secrets.
Matter created a genuine sense of place and community in small town North DeSoto, Florida. The town and the VFW provide the framework for the characters. The story would not be the same if it were set somewhere else. The characters guide readers through the search for answers. There is crime, but without gruesome descriptions and as a plus, there are laughs along the way to the end.
I was given a copy of “Last Call” from Paula Matter, Midnight Ink, and NetGalley. I enjoyed reading and laughing along the way. It is an enjoyable book to read, and in small town Florida, there is always pie.