Running on Empty by Sandra Balzo is the first book in the new “Main Street” mystery series. Publisher: Severn House Publishers, February 2012

Life on Sutherton’s Main Street has always been inexplicably hazardous, no matter the season in the North Carolina resort town.

The student who bet he could paddle a beer-filled ice chest across the lake—and lost. The skier who choked on her gum and arrived at the bottom of the slope still standing, if not quite breathing. Not to mention that occasional tourist lost in the mountains.

But the day Daisy Griggs siphoned three pints of blood from poor Mrs Bradenham during the town’s annual drive seems to set a new standard. It also bought Daisy’s daughter AnnaLise back, for Labor Day weekend. But the traditional celebration turns out to be no picnic. People are dying—in greater than historical numbers—and unless AnnaLise can figure out why, her mother may be next.

Upon hearing disturbing news regarding her mother, AnnaLise comes home and being the journalist that she is, starts investigating the recent spate of dead bodies, when it looks like her mother may be a target. This was a good story that I enjoyed immensely. The comfortable tone set the stage for this well-written mystery that I could not put down. When long ago secrets come crashing down and are exposed, it lends itself to a revelation that I did not see coming. This character-driven tale boasts a likeable cast, engaging conversation and a small-town atmosphere that is pleasantly appealing. This is a great read and I can’t wait for the next book in this terrific series.

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