Could classic comic books be a motive for murder?
Retired police chief Hank McCall and his daughter, Liz, his partner in running a toy shop in the Buffalo suburb of East Aurora, are off to the local convention center for the train and toy show. The booth next to them represents Craig’s Comics, whose owner, Craig McFadden, was Liz’s grade school nemesis and remains generally annoying. His helper, Maxine, a much more pleasant person than Craig—who’s dressed as Mr. Inferno, the superhero he created—is thrown into a tizzy when $90,000 worth of comic books go missing. Liz is dating two different men she really likes and is unable to choose between: Police Chief Ken Young, whom Hank calls when he recognizes some mobsters hanging around Craig’s booth, and restaurateur Jack Wallace, who’s visiting the toy fair with Terry, his ex-con brother. When Craig takes a flying leap off a narrow, elevated catwalk and ends up crushing a train display, Hank signs on as a temporary replacement for the ineffectual head of security. Craig survives the fall, but when he later dies in the hospital, the medical examiner labels his death murder. Liz, who’s already helped her dad solve one murder (Death of a Toy Soldier, 2016), is eager to pitch in on this one despite warnings from Hank and Ken to stay out of the investigation. Craig had a son from an affair, an autistic boy who will now inherit his comic-book estate. The boy's mother is a suspect. So are Terry; the mobsters; the former owner of the comics, who claims she was cheated; and others yet to be discovered. Once Maxine begins working part-time for Liz and helping inventory the comic store for the estate, she too is revealed as having a secret in her past. Liz and Hank have a lot of sleuthing to do before they can pluck the killer from such a plethora of suspects.
The second series entry is an especially enjoyable cozy for lovers of vintage toys and surprise endings.