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Stiff Penalty

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Deputy coroner Mattie Winston knows a thing or two about dead bodies. That's why she's on the case of Derrick Ames, a high school math teacher stabbed to death with a barbecue fork straight to the heart. Sure, she's turned up some motives and a few suspects, but nothing adds up. Especially when the evidence points to Ames's teenage son. Newly pregnant Mattie can't believe Deputy coroner Mattie Winston knows a thing or two about dead bodies. That's why she's on the case of Derrick Ames, a high school math teacher stabbed to death with a barbecue fork straight to the heart. Sure, she's turned up some motives and a few suspects, but nothing adds up. Especially when the evidence points to Ames's teenage son. Newly pregnant Mattie can't believe it, even as her own long-estranged father may be following her. But one thing's certain, she'd better start figuring things out fast, or a deadly perpetrator could be subtracting two more victims from the population of Sorenson, Wisconsin. . .


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Deputy coroner Mattie Winston knows a thing or two about dead bodies. That's why she's on the case of Derrick Ames, a high school math teacher stabbed to death with a barbecue fork straight to the heart. Sure, she's turned up some motives and a few suspects, but nothing adds up. Especially when the evidence points to Ames's teenage son. Newly pregnant Mattie can't believe Deputy coroner Mattie Winston knows a thing or two about dead bodies. That's why she's on the case of Derrick Ames, a high school math teacher stabbed to death with a barbecue fork straight to the heart. Sure, she's turned up some motives and a few suspects, but nothing adds up. Especially when the evidence points to Ames's teenage son. Newly pregnant Mattie can't believe it, even as her own long-estranged father may be following her. But one thing's certain, she'd better start figuring things out fast, or a deadly perpetrator could be subtracting two more victims from the population of Sorenson, Wisconsin. . .

30 review for Stiff Penalty

  1. 5 out of 5

    ❀Aimee❀ Just one more page...

    This was a fun read. I chose to request it when I found out the MC and the author are nurses (my husband and I are both nurses). It's always nice to have the medical knowledge and aspects in a murder mystery actually correct. The MC's voice is spunky and hilarious. I had several laugh out loud moments. Quotes may not match the final book since this is an advance reader copy. "...my relationship with Hurley thus far has had more ups and downs and more ins and outs than a porno movie..." This was a fun read. I chose to request it when I found out the MC and the author are nurses (my husband and I are both nurses). It's always nice to have the medical knowledge and aspects in a murder mystery actually correct. The MC's voice is spunky and hilarious. I had several laugh out loud moments. Quotes may not match the final book since this is an advance reader copy. "...my relationship with Hurley thus far has had more ups and downs and more ins and outs than a porno movie..." "Was it Gunther? Because if it was, I'm going to chain his legs into that exercise machine he keeps putting me on and spread that sucker until he splits like the wishbone on a turkey." "My good friend Phyllis - aka Syph to those of us in the know -- directed us to the room that held our victim." I also liked one quote the author had about her emotional ups and downs while being pregnant. "But lately it seems my emotions are hanging on my sleeve like a collection of dangerously loose threads, constantly at risk of being snagged by the slightest provocation, after which they would unravel with terrifying speed, exposing parts of me I'd rather keep hidden." This is the 6th book in a series, and for once the history of the MC is summed up succinctly yet thoroughly. I always felt like I understood the character well. This does well as a stand alone book. The murder mystery keeps a good pace and kept my interest. AND on the plus side, I didn't guess the murderer! Woo-hoo! Thank you Netgalley for a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Maureen DeLuca

    Wasn't as crazy about this as the others. This is a cozy- I read these every once in a while for a change of pace. Pop corn for the brain. It is a series that I would recommend- IF you are into cozies- not all were good, but like always the first one in this series was, so far the best. I will still pick up the next one just to see what is happening - but again... a cozy. That pretty much says it all.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I love Mattie and her adventures! This one is at the top of the list. I enjoyed that it was told mainly in flashback. I didn't like Izzy being gone and some of the characters that brought in. I was really happy with the ending and it was exciting too! Looking forward to seeing what happens next too since nothing is ever straight forward for Mattie.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anastasia

    Stiff Penalty by Annelise Ryan is the 6th book in the Mattie Winston Mysteries series. Deputy coroner Mattie Winston assists in the investigation of the death of a Maths teacher as well as dealing with a stalker who is trying to kill her. An interesting mystery although there was a lot going on with this book. I like that Mattie is strong, capable and kind and has a terrific support network to help her, although I wish she would sort out her relationship issues. An enjoyable and fun book with a Stiff Penalty by Annelise Ryan is the 6th book in the Mattie Winston Mysteries series. Deputy coroner Mattie Winston assists in the investigation of the death of a Maths teacher as well as dealing with a stalker who is trying to kill her. An interesting mystery although there was a lot going on with this book. I like that Mattie is strong, capable and kind and has a terrific support network to help her, although I wish she would sort out her relationship issues. An enjoyable and fun book with a nice feel-good ending.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Moondance

    I find it ironic that I'm sitting across from a psychiatrist discussing the dichotomy of life and death, not only because I hate shrinks and once swore I'd never go to one, but because I came here voluntarily, at least this time. This is book six in the Mattie Winston series. Mattie has so much going on with her (view spoiler)[ unplanned pregnancy (hide spoiler)] and the stress involved. Hurley has been out of town for two months and Mattie has been working with his partner, Bob Richmond. A call I find it ironic that I'm sitting across from a psychiatrist discussing the dichotomy of life and death, not only because I hate shrinks and once swore I'd never go to one, but because I came here voluntarily, at least this time. This is book six in the Mattie Winston series. Mattie has so much going on with her (view spoiler)[ unplanned pregnancy (hide spoiler)] and the stress involved. Hurley has been out of town for two months and Mattie has been working with his partner, Bob Richmond. A call sends Mattie and Izzy to the ER where they find Derrick Ames dead with a fork in his chest. So begins their newest case as the team tries to discover who would want to kill the well liked high school math teacher. Mattie is one of my favorite characters. She keeps it real and seems like someone I would be friends with. Mattie is far from perfect, a bit screwy and able to laugh at herself. Her current situation adds so much more to the usual antics in the previous books. I addition to the Ames' death, Mattie is dealing with a stalker. She thinks that it is her long absent father and demands answers from her flaky mother. She learns a bit more than she expected. The death of Derrick has many twists and turns as we learn information about his ex-wife and his volatile teenage son. Toss in a new girlfriend and you at not sure who to look at for the murder. The reveal was a bit of a surprise. Hurley needs to step it up a bit in his relationship with Mattie. He needs to find a way to get his daughter, Emily into some serious therapy. It frustrates me that he has to chose between his unstable child and Mattie. I'm interested in where this storyline will go. I enjoyed the way the story was presented by alternating between current time and the events Mattie is relating to her psychiatrist. The first time the point of view changed I thought I had missed something and had to go back. Then is started to flow. Great story, quirky characters and good plot. I look forward to spending more time in Sorenson, Wisconsin again soon.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Dosch

    Utterly disappointed. All the things I started out liking the most about this series started becoming annoying as there was no character growth. Each story works to keep Mattie and Hurley apart and each time it seems more contrived. This is definitely my last Mattie Winston mystery. I forced myself to keep turning the pages on this story simply to get to find out if Mattie has the baby and whether or not Mattie would agree to marry Hurley. Also, once again, someone was out to get Mattie and I hel Utterly disappointed. All the things I started out liking the most about this series started becoming annoying as there was no character growth. Each story works to keep Mattie and Hurley apart and each time it seems more contrived. This is definitely my last Mattie Winston mystery. I forced myself to keep turning the pages on this story simply to get to find out if Mattie has the baby and whether or not Mattie would agree to marry Hurley. Also, once again, someone was out to get Mattie and I held out to see who was the culprit. Over the course of the series the author has contrived one reason or another to keep Hurley and Mattie from being together. It was several books while Mattie moaned like a teenager whether Hurley returned her feelings. Once they both acknowledge their attraction, their jobs kept them apart since it was a conflict of interest. Just as Mattie quits her job to be with Hurley and they finally “do the deed,” and then his ex-wife comes to town with a teenage daughter he never met. Mattie then returns to work and they once can’t have a relationship. Hurley leaves town to find his missing ex-wife who left his daughter on his doorstep and Mattie finds out she is pregnant. Now that Mattie is pregnant, Hurley’s teenage daughter, who in the prior book loved Mattie and was happy she made Hurley happy, is now faking emergencies and suicide attempts to keep Mattie away from Hurley, and accuses Mattie of getting herself pregnant to force Hurley to marry her. Back and forth, back and forth. As if Mattie’s own neurosis isn’t enough to come between her and Hurley. Again, there are scenes that are contrived to create angst. For example, Mattie hasn’t told Hurley about the baby yet since he is already stressed trying to locate his missing ex-wife and she wants to tell him face to face. Hurley will be returning tomorrow, but Mattie feels the need to finally go out to buy maternity clothes today…in her tiny town…from the only maternity story…which is owned by the town gossip. Mattie then gets into a car accident and Hurley shows up at the same time as the police since he got into town early, and Hurley and the cops all learn about her pregnancy at the same time, when they take the bags of maternity clothes out of the car. She couldn’t have waited one more day before going shopping or take the time to go to the next town where her OB/GYN was located? Especially since she doesn’t wear these new maternity clothes right away. There were comments after this point that she was still wearing too tight regular clothes. More contrived plot twists to create nonsensical drama. Mattie also determines that each pretty girl who is within spitting distance of Hurley will steal him away. Yes, they are interested in Hurley, but Hurley doesn’t seem to be encouraging anyone else’s affections but Mattie’s. She is so obsessed about it but she won’t agree to marry Hurley, too afraid his is marrying her for the baby only. Mattie won’t make a commitment to Hurley but is obsessed by the other women who would be happy to snatch up the eligible bachelor. These are the same issues we have dealt with so far through the series. Besides growing large with a baby, Mattie has not achieved any personal growth or development and Hurley is kept as a very one dimensional characters. He showed no reaction in the last story where Mattie stole a letter that his ex-wife left on his dresser, she opened it, read it and kept it from him for weeks until she determined he was ready to know about it. We understand why she waited, but there was no knee jerk anger from him that she took his letter, that she read it, or that she interfered. Nothing. He took the news in stride. In this story, Mattie waits until she is five months pregnant when Hurley returns to town to let him know he would be a father. Again, we understand why, but there was no initial anger that in all their phone conversations, she didn’t give him a heads up. That he has to learn about it in front of everyone else. Hurley takes everything in stride. He is unhappy that Mattie won’t marry him, but he isn’t particularly angry and he doesn’t get overly anger when his daughter starts to interfere and almost keeps him from the birth of his child. Hurley isn’t given enough human emotions to make him more than a paper character. This is definitely my last Mattie Winston mystery since the murder investigations aren’t that exciting and the personal interactions between the characters is starting to fall flat and become rote. Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    There are two mysteries in this book, a high school math teacher is "forked" to death and Mattie is being followed and getting mysterious phone calls with no one talking when she picks up. This time around Mattie's family, Izzie and Dom and even Hurley (despite being the father of Mattie's soon to be born child) have tiny roles. The mysteries also take a backseat to Mattie's emotional state and the solving of them doesn't really kick into gear until almost 80% of the way through the book (I wish There are two mysteries in this book, a high school math teacher is "forked" to death and Mattie is being followed and getting mysterious phone calls with no one talking when she picks up. This time around Mattie's family, Izzie and Dom and even Hurley (despite being the father of Mattie's soon to be born child) have tiny roles. The mysteries also take a backseat to Mattie's emotional state and the solving of them doesn't really kick into gear until almost 80% of the way through the book (I wish Kindle would use page numbers). I have enjoyed the previous 5 books as light fun and enjoyed the absurdity of some of the situations Mattie gets into. I wanted a mystery, got two but too much time was spent on Mattie's insecurities. We get lots and lots of insight as to how Mattie feels about her pregnancy, her weight, her looks, Hurley and Emily, her job, her ex, her father, the new videographer making eyes at Hurley, etc. Ultimately, Mattie comes off as a flighty, wishy washy, "girly" type who obsesses about everything. She also constantly jumps to conclusions about elements in her personal and professional life (the murderers, her father lurking, Hurley's interest in other women, David bad mouthing her, etc.). She is devolving despite seeing a psychologist in this book. I also didn't like how the time shifted when she's talking to her psychologist. That part was in the future a couple of times and then she tells us the story behind what she's telling the psychologist. I was turning back the first couple of times because I thought my ecopy was missing pages or I had skipped something. The killer also essentially outs him or herself which I dislike. Yes, eventually the police may have followed the lead Mattie had just given them to the correct killer, but the killer's chances to escape justice would have been better if the person had just stayed quiet. The killer's actions made no sense as well because the charges would only be so much worse with the action taken. So, to sum it up, Stiff Penalty was a disappointment to me because the mystery and crime solving took a back seat to Mattie's immature, frequently over the top actions and the engaging secondary characters were mostly cut out. I hope in the next book that Mattie's psychologist actually is used to help Mattie become a stronger character instead of a device to help Mattie tell the story in flashbacks. SPOILER For readers of the other books: Mattie is not seen/photographed in her underpants in this book. There is, of course, an embarrassing scene and not just of Mattie jumping to conclusions and being proven wrong. I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Excellent, as all of the books in this series are. Can't wait for the next one!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mary Brown

    Mattie Watson is a deputy coroner who is investigating the death of a high school teacher, Derrick Ames. Mattie knows it is a murder because he has a barbecue fork sticking out of his chest. With the help of her boyfriend, Hurley, and other members of the police department, Mattie is determined to find out who the killer is. They have only a few clues to go by and even fewer suspects so it will not be an easy task. While dealing with the murder, Mattie also has a stalker to worry about. She noti Mattie Watson is a deputy coroner who is investigating the death of a high school teacher, Derrick Ames. Mattie knows it is a murder because he has a barbecue fork sticking out of his chest. With the help of her boyfriend, Hurley, and other members of the police department, Mattie is determined to find out who the killer is. They have only a few clues to go by and even fewer suspects so it will not be an easy task. While dealing with the murder, Mattie also has a stalker to worry about. She notices a car following her around at different times and she begins getting hang-up phone calls. When there is an attempt made on her life she knows that she is not imaging the threat. And if that is not enough to handle, Mattie finds out that she is pregnant. She knows the father of her baby is Hurley and she knows that she loves him but she does not know how he is going to take the news. Hurley recently found out that he is the father of a teenage daughter and he has told Mattie that fatherhood is not something he ever wanted. And although she knows that he cares for her, she is not sure if Hurley loves her. Mattie is a character that I fell in love with. She is stubborn, fearless, funny and loyal. She puts on a brave face and wants others to think that she has her act together, but that is far from the truth. She has insecurities about being a good mother and abandonment issues since her father walked away when she was young. She is vulnerable and has many worries that she keeps to herself. I literally laughed out loud at some of the things that happened to her during her pregnancy. Memories of my own pregnancy kept creeping in and I could so relate to all the un-fun things that happened during that time. I thought this aspect of the book was perfectly written and I really enjoyed that. The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read. The two mysteries are carried on throughout the entire book and I was surprised when the killer was revealed. I did not figure out the killer at all and I really like that. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-crafted cozy. This book had it all, mystery, suspense, humor and heartwarming moments. I have read the first book in this series and after reading this book, I now have book two to read. This book could be read as a stand alone, the characters are well developed enough for that, but I would suggest reading the series in order, just so that you can read more about Mattie. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. And I can honestly say that I give this book a five star rating because I thought it was really great. I would like to thank NetGalley and Kensington Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Kander

    This was my first foray into this series...but now I look forward to getting caught up on it before there is another added to it. Mattie Winston is a headstrong, opinionated woman who is used to taking care of herself and doing things her own way. She also has a wicked sense of humor, which I love. She's surrounded by quite an entourage of supporting characters, as well: her boyfriend, Hurley and his daughter, Emily; her boss, Izzy and his partner, Dom; her sister and mother, and numerous other f This was my first foray into this series...but now I look forward to getting caught up on it before there is another added to it. Mattie Winston is a headstrong, opinionated woman who is used to taking care of herself and doing things her own way. She also has a wicked sense of humor, which I love. She's surrounded by quite an entourage of supporting characters, as well: her boyfriend, Hurley and his daughter, Emily; her boss, Izzy and his partner, Dom; her sister and mother, and numerous other folks around town. Mattie is trying to solve the murder of a high school teacher, while also trying to solve her own mystery--who is stalking her and trying to kill her? Throw in pregnancy hormones, and chaos ensues. I can't wait to find out what led to this point, and then to see what happens next in the series. **I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.**

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    This is the first Mattie Winston mystery I've read but it won't be the last. I'll be looking for the first 5. A great story with Mattie narrating a lot of this story to her doctor. She and Hurley are expecting a baby boy but this doesn't slow them down with their murder investigations. With several story lines going on it's a race to see if baby arrives before they can clear up their cases. Can't wait for #7.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jenni Schell

    I liked this book but didn't love it. I enjoyed most of the characters. However, I did find that there may have been too much about the main character and that it took away from the actual mystery.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dallass

    I see what you did there 😉 This is my third foray into the series and this time around we see the story unfold, for the most part, through a series flashbacks as Mattie talks to her shrink. It was a well chosen plot device that shakes everything up a little bit to the point that you’re not sure what to expect, even though Mattie tells you what the next part of the story will encompass. The unfolding dramas, both personal and professional, were fun to read, and worked well with the current investig I see what you did there 😉 This is my third foray into the series and this time around we see the story unfold, for the most part, through a series flashbacks as Mattie talks to her shrink. It was a well chosen plot device that shakes everything up a little bit to the point that you’re not sure what to expect, even though Mattie tells you what the next part of the story will encompass. The unfolding dramas, both personal and professional, were fun to read, and worked well with the current investigation. Richmond is growing on me, and “please call me Charlie” might be a problem in stories to come. Emily is messed up - and needs a swift kick up the butt - however her pain doesn’t come through as much as I’d expected. Her anger is coming through loud and clear though. I really enjoyed this altered timeline narrative, and am looking forward to the next book. 3.5 stars ⭐️ (almost a 4)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    I knew there were 5 books ahead of this one in the series, but I took a chance and started with this one because I'm cheap and it was a Kindle Daily Deal:) There was enough background that I had a good idea of who was who and their past relationships. Unfortunately, the "villian" turned out to be somebody from the past who may or may not have actually appeared in a past book. I'll know when I finally get caught up on the whole series. I love Mattie Winston and her shrink and her group of friends I knew there were 5 books ahead of this one in the series, but I took a chance and started with this one because I'm cheap and it was a Kindle Daily Deal:) There was enough background that I had a good idea of who was who and their past relationships. Unfortunately, the "villian" turned out to be somebody from the past who may or may not have actually appeared in a past book. I'll know when I finally get caught up on the whole series. I love Mattie Winston and her shrink and her group of friends and coworkers, and I'm kicking myself for not discovering this series when the first book was a Kindle Daily Deal!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alice Teets

    In the sixth book of the Mattie Winston series, Mattie is dealing with pregnancy hormones and a stalker. Add in a new woman making eyes at Hurley and Hurley's teenage daughter's hormones, and she has a lot to deal with even before she starts investigating a murder. I really like this series, but I have to say that I did not like Mattie's character much in this one.however, I can't wait to read the next one!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Castor

    Great book!! A high school teacher is found murdered and it seems like his son might be the killer. Also, Mattie thinks her father is stalking her and she accidentally kills a man after someone shoots at her. Changes all around as Hurley adjusts to being a dad to Emily after her mom's death and Mattie and Hurley deal with Mattie's pregnancy. Very fun book with some twists I didn't see coming. Looking forward to reading the next book in this fun series!!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    An interesting way to tell a story - The main character, Mattie Winston, is visiting her shrink. Part of the story is told to the shrink (as if it already happened) and the rest is told in the present. It all flows very well and I had a really hard time putting this one down. Looking forward to the next in this series!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    So fun This series is terrific! Even though there is blood, guns, knives and forks, fire and death, the characters are wonderful, the plots twists and turns, never sure who the culprits are. Part of me wants to hurry through to find out the ending, another part of me does not want the story to end!! Can’t wait to start the next one!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan Kiehnhoff

    I'm in the process of binge reading this series and I can't wait to get the next one. I have enjoyed all of the books. I think the plots are more complex than most cozy mysteries. I also like that the protagonist's job requires her to be nosy. Unlike so many other cozies Mattie has a concrete reason to snoop. That is refreshing to me.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Celeste

    I got this book for free at an antique store. It's not something I would have gotten myself, but I really enjoyed it. I haven't read in a while, and this was a good book to get into. Although, it's apart of a series, I wasn't lost in the story, I may pick up the back series sometime, to learn more about Mattie. It was a fun adventure, keeps you wanting to see what will happen next.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    This is the 6th in the Mattie Winston series, and I had already read #7, so I knew some of what was happening, but it was still interesting. There was a lot regarding Mattie's pregnancy, and the book ended with the birth of the baby, and her descriptions of the pregnancy were funny. I've already downloaded No. 8 in the series, so will be starting on that.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gwen

    Oh Baby Mattie seems to act more realistically believable in this book than the previous one. All's well that ends well. I only have to complain about the editing: using they/their instead of the singular s/he or him/her when referring to one person. Also tense issues occur.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    Pretty good, but the author seems to be searching for new ways to present the story. One had a lot of diary entries. This one has a lot of meetings with Mattie's therapist, and the story seems to stem from there. I like the straight-forward style best.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Holly Woolums

    Stiff penalty Love this book! The story unfolded perfectly! I just wish that Mattie would come to grips with herself as A woman and get over her jealousy of other women. I look forward to the next book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tameka

    The high school math teacher ends up dead and as usual Mattie is doing her job but someone is following her. This wasn't what I expected but it is still a good read. Mattie killed her first person not on purpose but it worked to her advantage.

  26. 5 out of 5

    needra little

    Very good reading The story plot is very suspenseful and keeps you guessing with the twists and turns it takes. Really like the characters especially Izzy and Dom with their funny interchange.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bridgette Davis

    Binge reading I could hardly put this one down! So much suspense, so many twists, very enjoyable! I’m going to be devastated when I reach the end of this series.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

    Good little mystery for a cold winter night!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah "Kat"

    Love this series! Not too cutesy as some cozies can be and has a little edge. Great main character Mattie - fun reads!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carol Birch

    I

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