A North Carolina family-research specialist and her psychic friend take on a murder in the present and a mystery from the past.
Genealogist Sophreena McClure, Esme Sabatier and the other members of an unofficial club in the town of Morningside plan to give a present of family research to their friend Olivia Clement. Although Olivia’s always wanted to know more about her father, who ran off before she was born, her friends warn her that she might not like what she learns. But Olivia, who wants to know the truth, turns over boxes of papers and diaries from her recently deceased aunt Celestine to the researchers. Tony Barrett, a former student of Olivia’s daughter Beth, offers to make a video scrapbook to accompany the print versions, despite Esme’s wariness of newfangled media. Esme has her own resources that only Sophreena knows about—signs, symbols and occasional voices from those who’ve gone on before. She and Sophreena have barely started the project when Beth’s controlling husband, Blaine Branch, is found floating in a lake. Although Esme’s beau, Detective Denny Carlson, is reluctant to disrupt a family he knows and likes, he’s obligated to investigate Beth, her brother and Blaine’s associates. Tony’s troubled past brings him under suspicion as well. While he uses his technological skills to help Sophreena and Esme with Blaine’s murder—and Sophreena does research into the unknown aspects of her own family history—they’re also getting messages from Celestine, who keeps telling Esme that something’s not right.
Bonner’s chatty, huggy club (Paging the Dead, 2013) returns to sort out family trees and solve murders at a leisurely pace that keeps this cozy from standing out—until what seems like a giveaway leads to a surprising climax.