This morning, Hartford Books Examiner reviews four cozy whodunits that are sure to set spines tingling this fall.
Out today from Crooked Lane Books is Wendy Corsi Staub’s “Nine Lives”—the first in a new series set in the real-life spiritualist community of Lily Dale, located in upstate New York. This is familiar terrain for the author, who used the same backdrop for both a standalone suspense novel (“In the Blink of an Eye”) and a four-book YA series. This time around, readers are introduced to recent widow Bella Jordan and her son, Max, who are looking for a new start in Chicago but instead find themselves rerouted to “the Dale” to return a stray cat. Upon arrival, however, they find that its owner, Leona, has recently crossed over—and that she may have had some help in reaching the other side. Bella agrees to oversee Leona’s bustling inn temporarily, which provides her with the ideal excuse to do some snooping—and soul searching. “Nine Lives” achieves just the right balance of charming and quirky, with Staub offering up a loveable cast of characters who will hopefully be haunting readers for years to come.
Also available is “Murder, She Wrote: The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher” (NAL), written by Donald Bain in collaboration with his wife, Renee Paley-Bain (who receives her first official byline for the MSW books). The forty-fourth book in this venerable series finds Jessica Fletcher back in her beloved Cabot Cove at fall time, where longtime resident Cliff Cooper has met with foul play after predicting his own demise. Convinced that home is where the truth is, Jessica agrees to help real estate agent Eve Simpson prepare the property—the Spencer Percy House—for sale. But the more she digs, the closer she comes to discovering some very dangerous truths—ones that somebody might very well kill to keep hidden. A bookish bounty, a cast of memorable characters (including a medium-for-hire), and an alleged ghostly presence all conspire to make this one to remember.
Another recent release is Leslie Meier’s “Candy Corn Murder” (Kensington), the twenty-second novel to feature intrepid reporter/amateur sleuth Lucy Stone. Halloween is coming to Tinker’s Cove, and the town is hosting a Giant Pumpkin Fest to usher in the occasion. But what starts out as fun and games results in murder when a body is found during the pumpkin catapult—and it’s Lucy’s husband, Bill, who’s on the hook for the crime. Though accustomed to performing under pressure, Lucy finds herself staring down the ultimate deadline. With a household to run, a grandchild to care for, and a job to preserve at the local Pennysaver, proving Bill’s innocence is no easy task. While Meier’s seasonal flourishes abound, it’s her depictions of the inherent drama in every day domesticity and the seedy underbelly that often exists beneath apparent wholesomeness that truly resonates. This is one cozy that will leave you a bit unsettled.
Finally, Agatha Christie’s “Hallowe’en Party” (William Morrow)—first published in 1969, toward the end of Hercule Poirot’s celebrated career (which came to a close with 1975’s “Curtain”)—is still a must-read for genre fans. As the story opens, the famous Belgian detective is called upon to investigate the murder of young Joyce Reynolds, who’s been drowned in the apple-bobbing tub. Earlier, Joyce—largely considered to be a liar—professed to having once witnessed a murder, and Poirot can’t help but believing that proclamation to be the impetus for her death. Consequently, he insinuates himself into the everyday life of a small village, charming people into revealing darks secrets and sinister motives. While Halloween itself is but a subtle undercurrent, this one is memorable for Christie’s commentary on the evolving nature of children and the plight of mental illness; she also reintroduces Mrs. Ariadne Olive, a famed mystery novelist who just may be an ode to Christie herself.
And now it’s your turn, dear readers: what’s keeping you turning pages late into the night? Sound off in the comments section below.