Fans will enjoy matching wits with Cleeves’ eccentric sleuth right up to the dangerous surprise in her denouement.

THE DARKEST EVENING

A murder investigation hits close to home for an experienced police officer in the north of England.

Taking a wrong turn in a snowstorm, Inspector Vera Stanhope finds a car with only a baby inside. With no cellphone service, she drives to the nearest house, which just happens to belong to her estranged relatives. Vera’s cousin Juliet and Juliet’s husband, Mark Bolitho, are giving a dinner party in hopes of courting prospective donors to support Mark’s plan of converting their estate into an art center, promoting Mark’s artistic interests and keeping the faltering estate alive. When a farmer tied to the estate discovers the body of a murdered woman in the snow near the main house, Vera becomes involved in a case that bring her closer to her only family. The car belongs to a retired schoolteacher who often loaned it to Lorna Falstone,  the mother of a baby son. The suspects in her murder include the dinner guests along with Juliet’s snobbish mother, Harriet, and Dorothy Felling, a superior housekeeper who lives with her husband and child in a tied cottage. It seems unlikely that a madman wandered out of the storm to kill Lorna, who’s never identified the father of her child. After the baby is taken to Lorna’s parents, who own a farm nearby, a second murder spurs Vera and her team to investigate a tangled web of family connections and buried secrets.

Fans will enjoy matching wits with Cleeves’ eccentric sleuth right up to the dangerous surprise in her denouement.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-25-020450-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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The lavish food descriptions and appended recipes are the best parts of this anemic mystery.

CANDY SLAIN MURDER

Christmas is coming, but so is trouble for South Lick, Indiana.

Robbie Jordan, owner and chief cook at Pans ’N Pancakes, returns from solving a murder in California just in time for the holiday rush, which is complicated more than most Christmastimes by a number of surprises that disrupt her circle of friends. First, her assistant, Danna Beedle, gets a visit from Marcus Vandemere, a young biracial man claiming to be her half brother, an assertion that thrills Danna despite the doubts of some friends and relatives. Next comes a fire that nearly destroys the home of anesthesiologist Dr. William Geller, a racist whose wife, Tina, reportedly left him years ago. When a skeleton turns up in the attic, the not-so-esteemed doctor has some explaining to do. Robbie’s nemesis, Detective Octavia Slade, who recently married Robbie’s former boyfriend, is more willing than usual to accept help from Robbie, who has a knack for finding things out. The next to die is Tina’s twin, Toni, who knew Marcus from karate classes. Toni’s husband is the prime suspect, but Robbie’s convinced the fatalities are connected. With help from her boyfriend and her network of friends, she attempts to clear things up before the killer spoils her holiday by adding her to his list.

The lavish food descriptions and appended recipes are the best parts of this anemic mystery.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-2317-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A quintessential cozy that breaks no new ground and doesn’t need to.

MURDER, SHE WROTE: KILLING IN A KOI POND

A visit to an old college pal takes a dark (but not too dark) turn when a renowned mystery author discovers a death that screams murder, at least to her.

Delighted to be reunited with her old friend from Harrison College, Jessica Fletcher’s curious about Willis, the man Dolores Nickens has just wed. After two failed marriages, Dolores may finally have found the soul mate she’ll settle down with forever, and Jessica’s cautiously pleased to make his acquaintance on a trip to Manning Hall, his impressive South Carolina home. But Willis raises Jessica’s hackles: Though he’s obviously warm to Dolores, he’s the kind of guy who can turn his charm on and off. When he tries to fire members of his staff before a dinner party, Dolores must talk sense into him by pointing out that fired people can’t serve guests. The one person Willis can never be upset with is his 9-year-old granddaughter, Abby, the apple of his eye, and of his bride’s too, though she’s grandmother by marriage rather than blood. His doting on Abby seems inversely proportional to his loathing of his son-in-law, Clancy, whose irresponsible lifestyle irks Willis to no end. But none of these domestic tensions mar Jessica’s visit until Willis is found dead near the estate’s koi pond. Jessica is instantly convinced that Willis has been murdered and equally convinced that her job as famed mystery author J.B. Fletcher will give her the insight to solve the case—if only she can convince the reluctant local sheriff of the same.

A quintessential cozy that breaks no new ground and doesn’t need to.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-33359-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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