Andrews lays on the good cheer with a trowel. Even the rabbi’s wife gets a cameo.

THE GIFT OF THE MAGPIE

Ornamental blacksmith/general do-gooder Meg Langslow’s Christmas activities entangle her with a fellow resident of Caerphilly, Virginia, whose domestic life is even more chaotic than hers.

Unlike Meg, who’s surrounded by members of her own cheerfully argumentative family as well as the Shiffleys, Caerphilly’s somewhat more benign version of the Snopeses, Harvey Dunlop has chosen to surround himself with stuff—objects of dubious value he can’t bring himself to throw out. So Meg, her friend Caroline Willner, Meredith Flugleman of Adult Protective Services, and other concerned members of Helping Hands for the Holidays have banded together to strong-arm, er, help and encourage him to go through his house with a shovel and relocate his treasures to an empty building Randall Shiffley owns in the hope of deep-cleaning the house and then urging Harvey to move on without moving his prized junk back in. Except for the unwelcome appearance of Morris, Ernest, and Josephine Haverhill, the cousins who seem to be Harvey’s only living relatives, the preliminaries go well. But when Meg shows up at Harvey’s for the main event in the decluttering marathon, her host is unresponsive, brained with a spittoon in his garage. As Harvey hovers between life and death, Meg plunges into his family history to uncover a motive for the murderous attack. Readers patient enough to wait for any mystery, or for that matter any significant conflict, to develop will be rewarded when their own suspicions about whodunit are proved exactly right.

Andrews lays on the good cheer with a trowel. Even the rabbi’s wife gets a cameo.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-76012-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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The parts with Nero Wolfe, the only character Goldsborough brings to life, are almost worth waiting for.

ARCHIE GOES HOME

In Archie Goodwin's 15th adventure since the death of his creator, Rex Stout, his gossipy Aunt Edna Wainwright lures him from 34th Street to his carefully unnamed hometown in Ohio to investigate the death of a well-hated bank president.

Tom Blankenship, the local police chief, thinks there’s no case since Logan Mulgrew shot himself. But Archie’s mother, Marjorie Goodwin, and Aunt Edna know lots of people with reason to have killed him. Mulgrew drove rival banker Charles Purcell out of business, forcing Purcell to get work as an auto mechanic, and foreclosed on dairy farmer Harold Mapes’ spread. Lester Newman is convinced that Mulgrew murdered his ailing wife, Lester’s sister, so that he could romance her nurse, Carrie Yeager. And Donna Newman, Lester’s granddaughter, might have had an eye on her great-uncle’s substantial estate. Nor is Archie limited to mulling over his relatives’ gossip, for Trumpet reporter Verna Kay Padgett, whose apartment window was shot out the night her column raised questions about the alleged suicide, is perfectly willing to publish a floridly actionable summary of the leading suspects that delights her editor, shocks Archie, and infuriates everyone else. The one person missing is Archie’s boss, Nero Wolfe (Death of an Art Collector, 2019, etc.), and fans will breathe a sigh of relief when he appears at Marjorie’s door, debriefs Archie, notices a telltale clue, prepares dinner for everyone, sleeps on his discovery, and arranges a meeting of all parties in Marjorie’s living room in which he names the killer.

The parts with Nero Wolfe, the only character Goldsborough brings to life, are almost worth waiting for.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5040-5988-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Mysterious Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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You can’t help but chuckle over all the disasters, but in the end the heroine catches her prey.

DRESSED UP 4 MURDER

An Arizona accountant with a penchant for solving murders lands a fishy case.

Sophie "Phee" Kimball might lead a dull life if it weren’t for her mother, Harriet Plunkett, and Harriet’s neurotic Chiweenie, Streetman. As it is, Harriet lives near her daughter in Sun City West and has a wide circle of zany friends who’ve helped Phee solve several mysteries (Molded 4 Murder, 2019, etc.) while she’s been working for Williams Investigations along with her boyfriend, Marshall, a former police officer. While Phee’s visiting Harriet one day, Streetman dashes over to the neighbors’ barbecue grill and unearths a dead body under a tarp. As usual, the overwhelmed local police ask Williams Investigations to help—er, consult. Harriet’s main concern is getting costumes made for the reluctant Streetman, whom she’s entered in a series of contests starting with Halloween and progressing through Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hannukah, and St. Patrick’s Day. One of her friends is an accomplished seamstress who goes all out making gorgeous costumes that will beat an obnoxious lady who looks down on mutts. The dead man is identified as Cameron Tully, a seafood distributor, who was poisoned by the locally ubiquitous sago pine. At the first dog contest, Elaine Meschow has to be rushed to the hospital after she gets a dose of the same thing. The owner of a gourmet dog food company, Elaine is lucky enough to recover. After Streetman takes second place, Harriet’s team redoubles its efforts for the next contest while Phee and Marshall, who are moving into a new place together, continue to hunt for clues. A restaurant holdup and a scheme to use empty houses for hookups for high school kids add to the confusion.

You can’t help but chuckle over all the disasters, but in the end the heroine catches her prey.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-2455-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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