A group of goth friends plan a Halloween shindig that will turn out even more special than they can know.
Ellen Rosings is the owner of the very Victorian Wisteria Tearoom in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her office manager, Kris Overland, is dating sexy, talented, charismatic artist Gabriel Rhodes, who’s planning a party based on “The Masque of the Red Death.” The tearoom, which has a reputation of being haunted, has already been the scene of several murders (A Bodkin for the Bride, 2015, etc.). At the planning meeting, Ellen is introduced to some of Gabriel’s friends. Several of the women are striking and talented; all of them are Gabriel’s former lovers. Ellen is struck by the contrast between Gabriel and her sometime boyfriend, Detective Tony Aragon, a pragmatic cop with no time for the arts and a jealous streak. At an art show, Ellen admires Gabriel’s rather disturbing work and learns that some of it will be shown at a Canyon Road gallery, the pinnacle of Santa Fe artistic success. The tearoom will be transformed into the setting for the Poe story, and the guests will wear costumes to fit the theme. Even a party hosted by one of Ellen’s chefs to paint sugar skulls for El Dia de los Muertos fits right into the macabre theme. All goes well until Halloween night, when disaster strikes, leaving Ellen and Tony to clean up the mess and catch a killer.
The late-blooming mystery runs a very distant second to the interesting and extremely detailed descriptions of artwork, costumes, and Santa Fe.