TROUBLE IN THE TOWN HALL

Widow Dorothy Martin, a transplanted American and surely the most aggressive of the current crop of village nosybodies (The Body in the Transept, 1995), lives in the village of Sherebury. She has the requisite cats, a part-time job volunteering at the Cathedral bookstore, and a civilized suitor—Chief Constable Alan Nesbitt. One day, by chance, Dorothy and the Cockney cleaning woman Ada Finch discover a body in a broom closet in the venerable, long disused Town Hall. City Commissioner and land developer Archibald Pettifer was also in the building. Pettifer is a longtime supporter of local business interests and a source of considerable irritation to village preservationists like Barbara Dean. The body is eventually identified as that of one Jack Jenkins, a small-time crook from Sheffield. Pettifer has an alibi provided by builder Herbert Benson, but his fragile wife Clarice, who works with Dorothy in the bookshop, appears devastated by the killing. The police are getting nowhere; Alan is consumed by preparations for an upcoming royal visit to Sherebury, but Dorothy, despite her leaking roof and frustrated efforts to rebuild her house, finds time to cross-examine anyone even marginally involved as she looks for a connection to Sheffield and uncovers an old building scandal. A second killing, the royal reception, and a crucial bit of evidence bring her search to a melodramatic end. The irritation raised by Dorothy's unalloyed chutzpa is partly soothed by Ada Finch's warm, down-to-earth persona. The clumsiness of the plot is unredeemed, but fans of the cozy genre will enjoy the village scene and its stalwart residents.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8027-3285-2

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1996

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An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

A KILLER EDITION

Too much free time leads a New Hampshire bookseller into yet another case of murder.

Now that Tricia Miles has Pixie Poe and Mr. Everett practically running her bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, she finds herself at loose ends. Her wealthy sister, Angelica, who in the guise of Nigela Ricita has invested heavily in making Stoneham a bookish tourist attraction, is entering the amateur competition for the Great Booktown Bake-Off. So Tricia, who’s recently taken up baking as a hobby, decides to join her and spends a lot of time looking for the perfect cupcake recipe. A visit to another bookstore leaves Tricia witnessing a nasty argument between owner Joyce Widman and next-door neighbor Vera Olson over the trimming of tree branches that hang over Joyce’s yard—also overheard by new town police officer Cindy Pearson. After Tricia accepts Joyce’s offer of some produce from her garden, they find Vera skewered by a pitchfork, and when Police Chief Grant Baker arrives, Joyce is his obvious suspect. Ever since Tricia moved to Stoneham, the homicide rate has skyrocketed (Poisoned Pages, 2018, etc.), and her history with Baker is fraught. She’s also become suspicious about the activities at Pets-A-Plenty, the animal shelter where Vera was a dedicated volunteer. Tricia’s offered her expertise to the board, but president Toby Kingston has been less than welcoming. With nothing but baking on her calendar, Tricia has plenty of time to investigate both the murder and her vague suspicions about the shelter. Plenty of small-town friendships and rivalries emerge in her quest for the truth.

An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0272-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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