In Dead End Street, by Sheila Connolly (Berkley, 2016, $7.99) the staid world of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society is rocked by 21st Century social issues when its president, Nell Pratt, discovers that the society owns property in one of the worst neighborhoods in Philadelphia. A visit to the site leads to a shooting and a death. The Philadephia police are ready to chalk the incident up to local gang-bangers having their usual fun and games, but Nell thinks there’s more to it, and won’t stop looking until she finds some answers. At the same time, she’s concerned about the use of the property, and how to make her organization more relevant to the parts of Philadelphia that do not have access to cultural beacons like the Museum of Fine Arts. The answer to both questions may lie with the community itself. A good addition to an intriguing series.
It’s family that causes the upset in Mary Dahein’s Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery Here Comes the Bribe (William Morris, 2016, $23.99). Judith McGonigle Flynn is trying to stage a wedding at Hillside Manor, but everything that can go wrong is. The father of the bride insists that Judith is his long-lost mother. The bride and groom act as if they barely know each other. The mother of the groom is in thrall to a collection of oddballs. The officiants are vague about their religious affiliation. Then the mother of the bride is found dead. Not only that, but there’s someone trying to buy up all the houses in the neighborhood at rock-bottom prices, with the hint of a major condominium development in the works. Judith’s in-laws insist on helping out with the investigation, as family relations get stranger and stranger. It’s a wild ride in the California sunshine, with a twist at the end that will have every reader gasping with laughter.
From California to Colorado, with The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala, by Laura DiSilverio (Obsidian 2016, $7.99). Amy-Faye Johnson’s reading club, the Readaholics, is reading Rebecca, the classic mystery by Daphne DuMaurier, so it’s only natural that they sponsor the Celebration of Gothic Novels in their town of Heaven, CO. Three major authors are appearing, including one who has a connection to a member of the club, one who may have stolen her prize-winning book from an aspiring fan, and one whose love life has become very complicated. When a stranger turns up dead at the costume party that was supposed to be the high point of the weekend, things get murkier than the most tangled web spun by a romance novelist. The Readaholics pool their resources, as they try to uncover the identity of the dead man and his connection to one or another of the three writers. There are digs at the arcane world of mystery writers, as well as small-town politics, gossipy neighbors, conspiracy fans, and the Colorado landscape. The solution to the mystery leads to repercussions for all concerned, and the promise that the next book the Readaholics will tackle will be something more straightforward… like a spy thriller!
It’s across the country to New England, where Sarah Winston runs garage sales, in Sherry Harris’s All Murders Final! (Kensington, 2016, $7.99) With winter coming on, Sarah thought that an on-line “virtual garage sale” web site might be a way for her to continue to re-cycle other peoples’ stuff during the inclement weather. Alas, it’s not working as well as she planned. Buyers are not coming through with money, sellers are misrepresenting their goods, and a cleaning woman who adversided on the web site may be involved in a string of local robberies. Then she discovers one of the leading citizens of the town dead, with the very tablecloth she wanted to buy stuffed in the dead woman’s mouth! Things get even odder as Sarah finds herself the target of a stalker. She hates to bring her ex-husband into the matter, but when she’s accused of stealing a car, things really get serious. Sarah’s love life gets even more tangled than the local political scene, as she discovers more about the dead woman than she really wanted to know. Motives abound, but the killer is someone no one even suspected. Tips on running a garage sale are included.
Finally, a not-so-cozy mystery in Washington DC: Stabbing in the Senate, by Colleen J. Shogan (Camel Press, 2016. $13.95) Kit Marshall finds her boss, Senator Lansford, in his office, impaled by one of his own desk ornaments. When she pulls the object out of the body, she leaves her own fingerprints and DNA on it, and is immediately accused of his murder. Now she has to prove her innocence, which means finding out who did kill the senator, who tended to make enemies in his own party as well as with the Opposition. It’s a fascinating look at the back-stage world of Big Government, as Kit and her friend Meg search for clues in high and low places. Is this murder purely political, or does the answer to the mystery lie closer to home? And what happens when the murderer is finally unmasked? Kit risks her career and her personal happiness to find out. A resourceful heroine, and a glimpse behind the scenes, even more pertinent in this year of political turmoil.
Reviews provided by Roberta Rogow for her column Roberta’s Ramblings for the Sept/Oct edition of The Book Breeze