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by Mignon F. Ballard

Pub Date: July 7th, 2003
ISBN: 0-312-30813-2
Publisher: Minotaur

Celestial sleuth Augusta Goodnight (Shadow of an Angel, 2002, etc.) has her heavenly hands full protecting a family on the brink of disaster while serving as mentor to an apprentice angel named Penelope.

Kate McBride must have been one of the youngest coeds on record; she’s a few years younger than her 30-year-old cousin Grady, and her daughter Josie, now 10, was born a year after Kate’s graduation. Maybe that’s why her marriage to Ned has turned rocky—so rocky that she drags a reluctant Josie to her great-uncle Ernest’s North Carolina home for a family reunion sans Dad. Back in the Blue Ridge, Kate faces the well-intentioned prying of Ma Maggie, her maternal grandmother, and Ma Maggie’s cousin Violet, along with the not-so-well-intentioned needling of her own cousin Deedee. Augusta soon arrives, accompanied by Penelope, who leaves a trail of broken dishes and spilt milk in her wake. Good thing, too, because Kate’s troubles are about to bump up a notch. She discovers Uncle Ernest’s housekeeper, Ella Stegall, at the bottom of a ravine, not far from the place where, 20 years ago, Kate and Grady had stumbled upon the body of a murdered vagrant. Unraveling the web of family secrets that connects the two murders takes all Kate’s wit and intelligence—plus the usual help from above.

Clean up that backstory and you’ve got a pretty decent mystery.