Who can resist such charming pets and a mystery stuffed with so many suspects, even if it runs a mite too long?

DIAL 'M' FOR MAINE COON

Cats may have nine lives, but an animal rescuer has only one, and that one’s hanging by a thread.

Arriving at the home of Joe Hitchcock, who’s adopting Maine coon cat Sheamus, Liz Denton finds that he’s not only been murdered, but has been revealed as someone else. The police inform her that he’s really Joseph Danvers, still a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, Christine, 30 years ago. Although no body was ever found, racist bigot Harry Davis claimed to have seen Danvers with a body and a shovel. Liz is disturbed that her customary vetting of prospective adopters didn’t turn up the truth about Joe and nervous when someone in a brown sedan follows her home. She consults with her daughter, Amelia, who’s interning for Chester Chudzinski, a private eye who’d been trying to prove Joseph Danvers innocent of any crime before Joseph was driven from town by prejudice and finger-pointing. The case takes a major turn when Liz’s stalker turns out to be Joseph’s son, Erik Deavers, whose mother, Christine, changed her name when she skipped town already pregnant. Though she’d tried to find Joe after he changed his own name, she died without seeing him and always told Erik it was better if he didn’t know what had happened years before. On top of her fears about these investigations, Liz is frazzled when her nemesis, Courtney Shaw, another pet rescuer, dumps what she claims is a lost Chihuahua on her and stands by idly when the owner accuses Liz of stealing it. With her husband busy at his veterinary clinic and her son involved with the latest in a string of unsuitable girls, Liz works with Amelia to solve the case a killer doesn’t want solved.

Who can resist such charming pets and a mystery stuffed with so many suspects, even if it runs a mite too long?

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-3171-5

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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An overly anodyne attempt at Southern gothic.

THE STOLEN MARRIAGE

A series of unfortunate errors consigns a Baltimore nurse to a loveless marriage in the South.

It’s 1943, and Tess, from Baltimore’s Little Italy, is eagerly anticipating her upcoming nuptials. Her frustration grows, though, when her physician fiance, Vincent, accepts an extended out-of-town assignment to treat polio patients. On an impromptu excursion to Washington, D.C., Tess has too many martinis, resulting in a one-night stand with a chance acquaintance, a furniture manufacturer from North Carolina named Henry. Back in Baltimore, Tess’ extreme Catholic guilt over her indiscretion is compounded by the discovery that she’s pregnant. Eschewing a back-street abortion, she seeks out Henry in hopes of arranging child support—but to her shock, he proposes marriage instead. Once married to Henry and ensconced in his family mansion in Hickory, North Carolina, Tess gets a frosty reception from Henry’s mother, Miss Ruth, and his sister, Lucy, not to mention the other ladies of Hickory, especially Violet, who thought she was Henry’s fiancee. Tess’ isolation worsens after Lucy dies in a freak car accident, and Tess, the driver, is blamed. Her only friends are the African-American servants of the household and an African-American medium who helps her make peace with a growing number of unquiet spirits, including her mother, who expired of shock over Tess’ predicament, and Lucy, not to mention the baby, who did not make it to full term. The marriage is passionless but benign. Although Henry tries to be domineering, he always relents, letting Tess take the nurses' licensing exam and, later, go to work in Hickory’s historic polio hospital. Strangely, despite the pregnancy’s end, he refuses to divorce Tess. There are hints throughout that Henry has secrets; Lucy herself intimates as much shortly before her death. Once the polio hospital story takes over, the accident is largely forgotten, leading readers to suspect that Lucy’s death was a convenient way of postponing crucial revelations about Henry. Things develop predictably until, suddenly and belatedly, the plot heats up in an unpredictable but also unconvincing way.

An overly anodyne attempt at Southern gothic.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-08727-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

A KILLER EDITION

Too much free time leads a New Hampshire bookseller into yet another case of murder.

Now that Tricia Miles has Pixie Poe and Mr. Everett practically running her bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, she finds herself at loose ends. Her wealthy sister, Angelica, who in the guise of Nigela Ricita has invested heavily in making Stoneham a bookish tourist attraction, is entering the amateur competition for the Great Booktown Bake-Off. So Tricia, who’s recently taken up baking as a hobby, decides to join her and spends a lot of time looking for the perfect cupcake recipe. A visit to another bookstore leaves Tricia witnessing a nasty argument between owner Joyce Widman and next-door neighbor Vera Olson over the trimming of tree branches that hang over Joyce’s yard—also overheard by new town police officer Cindy Pearson. After Tricia accepts Joyce’s offer of some produce from her garden, they find Vera skewered by a pitchfork, and when Police Chief Grant Baker arrives, Joyce is his obvious suspect. Ever since Tricia moved to Stoneham, the homicide rate has skyrocketed (Poisoned Pages, 2018, etc.), and her history with Baker is fraught. She’s also become suspicious about the activities at Pets-A-Plenty, the animal shelter where Vera was a dedicated volunteer. Tricia’s offered her expertise to the board, but president Toby Kingston has been less than welcoming. With nothing but baking on her calendar, Tricia has plenty of time to investigate both the murder and her vague suspicions about the shelter. Plenty of small-town friendships and rivalries emerge in her quest for the truth.

An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0272-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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