In this California-based cozy, a professional organizer sorts through suspects in the mysterious death of a client’s fiancee.
In Feliz’s (Address to Die For, 2016, etc.) second Maggie McDonald mystery, organizer Maggie is hired by Nobel-nominated Stanford professor Lincoln “Linc” Sinclair to declutter his large Victorian home. In an upstairs room of the messy house, there are more than stacks of papers for Maggie to contend with; there’s also a body. It belongs to Linc’s intended, Sarah Palmer. Clues suggest she’s been electrocuted. Phlegmy, dandruff-y detective Lt. Gordon Apfel (Maggie dubs him “Detective Awful”) believes it wasn’t an accident, and he homes in on Linc as the killer. Awful/Apfel is filling in on the police force for Maggie’s friend Detective Jason Mueller, sidelined with a broken leg. In a previous mystery, Jason, his husband, Stephen, and other locals helped Maggie crack an earlier case. The same crew backs her up in this equally good caper as she relies on her organizational skills to determine who might want to frame Linc for Sarah’s death. One possibility is Claire “Boots” Domingo. Boots runs the community garden that allegedly would acquire Linc’s property if he were to vacate it. Aside from a recent spate of suspicious deaths, the community Feliz has created is a loving, lively one populated by colorful, diverse characters who are funny (one asks, “Did you think I didn’t know any vulgar expressions? I was a middle-school principal, dear, not a hermit”) and charming, especially Maggie herself, who, when upset, doesn’t want to cry in front of her own golden retriever and Linc’s wolfhound because doing so would upset the dogs. Fans of Feliz’s first book as well as newcomers to the series won’t be disappointed.
An engaging but not complex mystery that moves forward quickly with freshness, a few surprises, and a couple of real scares.