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by Jane Tesh

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 1-59058-354-X
Publisher: Poisoned Pen

A former beauty-pageant regular reinvents herself as a private eye in the little town of Celosia, N.C.

Madeline Maclin is living with her old college pal Jerry Fairweather, scion of a wealthy family, who leads an aimless life running harmless scams involving the occult. Blaming himself for his parents’ death in a household fire, he refuses to enter his childhood home. Mac, who’s in love with Jerry, wants to prove the blaze wasn’t his fault. She suspects his sister Harriet holds the key. Meanwhile, the rundown house Jerry’s bat-loving uncle left him has become the setting for a low-budget horror movie based on a local bogeyman known as Mantis Man. When director Josh Gaskin is poisoned during the shoot, Mac has a host of suspects, among them the missing inventor who lost a film award to Josh in high school, the over-the-hill movie star unhappy with his role, Jerry’s sleazy con-artist friend and a local group who fear the Mantis Man publicity will blight Celosia’s southern charm. Mac and Jerry must deal with a ferret who acts like a poltergeist and a bevy of fanatical pageant fans before Mac tackles the real murderer, clears up her caseload and gets Jerry to pop the question.

Tesh (A Case of Imagination, not reviewed) spins an intriguing, wryly amusing tale of a beauty queen trying to get respect.