Customer Reviews: Executive Lunch (A Sedona O'Hala Mystery Book 1)
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Maria E. Schneider has a winner in "Executive Lunch," and hopefully this is just the first of a series of novels featuring the heroine Sedona O'Hala. In "Executive Lunch," Sedona is a "lab rat" at Strandfrost, a big technology company that is experiencing a baffling series of embezzlements and thefts of expensive equipment. Promoted to a management position and ordered to work with Steve Huntington, a mysterious new board member for Strandfrost, Sedona does her best to solve the mystery. There are plenty of potential culprits, including company insiders as well as some very dangerous criminals, and Sedona has her hands full trying to solve the case and stay alive.

Sedona O'Hala is a marvelous character. She's smart, fearless, and funny, and she's like a bloodhound once she's on the trail of the bad guys. She's a great character to build a series around, and I'm looking forward to seeing her in future novels where, hopefully, we'll learn more about her background and her family. Sedona's oldest brother Sean is an important character in "Executive Lunch," and her parents make a brief appearance, but there's plenty more to learn about Sedona's family. There's plenty of room for romance too. In "Executive Lunch," there's enough sexual tension between Sedona and Strandfrost board member Steve Huntington to heat things up and hint of future relationships, but it's clear that any man will have his hands full with the saucy Sedona.

Having read one of Ms. Schneider's previous works, "Sage: Tales from a Magical Kingdom," I thought she might be strictly a fantasy writer, so I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that she knows how to write a cracking good whodunit. She does a splendid job of developing the story, dropping little clues along the way as she rachets up the suspense to a dramatic climax. There are enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing about the identity of the criminals, although in hindsight, there were enough clues that a very observant reader might figure it out.

As a bonus, the book includes excerpts from Ms. Schneider's first two novels, "Catch an Honest Thief" and "Sage: Tales from a Magical Kingdom."

The formatting on my Kindle was perfect.

The bottom line: Five stars and two thumbs up for "Executive Lunch."
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on November 18, 2009
Have you ever worked in an office where the layout "...ensured that everyone was equally deprived of a window office with the exception of the managers"? Then you'll feel right at home at Strandfrost, the realistically exaggerated corporation at the center of Maria E. Schneider's delightful new mystery, Executive Lunch (A Sedona O'Hala Mystery). Schneider brings the reader face to face, and sometimes fist to nose, with a cast of diverse and interesting characters. The action starts inside the corporate corridors and soon spins excitingly into other equally bizarre venues. Even while you're chuckling, you'll realize you care what happens to the heroine, self described "lab rat" Sedona O'Hala. Whether it's fast moving action or dealing with a brother who threatens to rat Sedona out to their parents, Schneider writes skillfully and retains her sense of humor. This is Schneider at her best - funny, insightful, and exciting.
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on April 27, 2015
This was the first book of Maria Schneider's I read, and I loved it. So much that I wrote my first fan letter to an author. Then I read everything else by Ms Schneider that I could get my hands on. I'm a cozy reader, so this series hits the sweet spot of my taste in books. I loved every one of them. But Maria Schneider is such a versatile author that she has books in multiple genres, some of which I'd never ventured into before. Even so, I've enjoyed every single one of her books. The characterizations, plot, locale, and pacing all carry your interest through the entire book. There is one scene in this book where Sedona first meets the bad guys that stands out in my memory as perhaps the best scene I've ever read in any book ever.

So if this is the first time you are picking up a Maria Schneider book, you are in for a treat. And better yet, you then have a bunch more treats waiting for you. I can only hope that Ms Schneider has a long, profitable, and prolific career so that she can continue to supply me with wonderful things to read.
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on December 5, 2009
I enjoyed reading this cozy mystery. It was a light-hearted, fast read with elements of action, mystery, and witty, dry humor. The story moved at a very good pace; I never felt it drag on at any time. Sedona is likeable and funny, and a believable, fairly well-defined, down-to-earth main character. A lot of characters were introduced throughout the story, and while not all were necessary to the "whodunit," part of the story, some of their interactions were highly entertaining and will have you laughing out loud -- especially Sedona's family dinner and the "scene" that takes place in the limousine. If this is the start of a series, I will enjoy reading more "Sedona adventures" and, hopefully, seeing her and you-know-who (don't want to give spoilers) in a romantic relationship.
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on April 21, 2015
A well-written high-tech cozy mystery!

A lot of writers get either the tech or the personalities of high-tech wrong - Maria gets both right on! You have to be a bit - OK, maybe a lot - crazy to want to spend your days staring at a computer program to figure out why it's not working the way it should. Maria captures both the nuances of not-working computers and their decidedly kooky humans in this cozy mystery.

I flagged "no sex" and "no violence" because although there's romantic tension and some adventurous excitement there isn't the extreme of, say, any modern-day PG movie. :)

Sedona is an engaging heroine, somewhat out of her depth but always game. I'm reminded of Lou Asner to Mary Tyler Moore: "You know, kid, you've got pluck. I HATE pluck!" Sedona is "plucky" too, in the same way.

Her later adventures - also worth reading - take her a little way from her native high-tech environment, and she becomes if not competent at sleuthing at least a little less confused. But actually I liked this first one best, because I could see Sedona bumbling - er, skulking - around the corridors of the companies I worked at. You always knew that any company charging along so quickly couldn't be universally on the up-and-up, but in general the staff were as puzzled by the execs as they were by the products they were building. Sedona would have LOTS to do anywhere in Silicon Valley or S. V. South (Austin) or East (Raleigh).

Long may she reign!
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on December 20, 2011
Sedona O'Hala is a electronic technician. or lab rat, for a company named Strandfrost, Walking into work one morning, she finds herself mugged at the reception desk.

This kicks off a fast-paced, at times funny, romp to find out who is stealing the company blind. The Feds have been called in and a plan has been devised, a plan that requires Sedona to be promoted to Manager so that the crooks will contact her...

As we all know many plans are geared to fail and it seems like this one is...until Sedona starts noticing other discrepancies within the firm. With the Federal agents, and a contracted specialist who looks just like the mugger...Sedona is watching her back!

This was a very entertaining book that was easy to lose yourself in. I look forward to reading more by Ms. Schneider.
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on May 22, 2014
I loved the book! The characters, the suspense everything. There was humor and excitement. The story was well written and developed nicely. Just when u think u figured out the bad guys, you're proven wrong. A must read if you like mystery and comedy.
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VINE VOICEon March 8, 2010
If you're in the mood for a light, fun mystery, then this is the book for you! EXECUTIVE LUNCH offers a likable (even lovable) character and well-paced story that will have you laughing out loud at times.
A genuine five-star read you'll be sorry to see come to an end. Hopefully, we'll see Sedona again very, very soon.
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on May 6, 2015
I can't believe I have had this book on my Kindle since 2009, and I'm just reading it! Some of the computer jargon went right over my head, but Maria worked in the computer industry in another (!) lifetime, so it didn't really bother me, and there wasn't so much of it that it spoiled the storyline. I have to just keep remembering that as a nurse, if I were to write a book about nursing experiences there would be a ton of things that mostly only other people in the medical field would "get".

I absolutely LOVE Sedona. She is my type of woman. I want to be just like her when I grow up! She is quirky, feisty, a martial arts kind of girl who doesn't mind tackling a guy more than a foot taller then herself, if the situation calls for it of course. And SMART! Did I mention that Sedona is SMART?! She keeps a lot of guys scratching their heads, like "how did she do/know/fix/etc. that!

There are scenes in this book that I promise you, will have you really laughing out loud. I was sitting on the front porch during one of these episodes laughing like someone demented. I'm sure all the neighbors heard me, but that's OK, because then I can tell them they really need to get this book. It is HUGELY enjoyable. Good work, Maria!
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on August 11, 2012
If you are looking for a nice light read, this might be the series for you. Sedona has a bunch of interesting friends and cohorts, and her job is interesting, nice for something different in the mystery genre.
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