Jacobia Tiptree contends with moose cud, her son’s love life, an impending family reunion, and a compulsive housekeeper in her ninth helping of home repair and homicide (Mallets Aforethought, 2004, etc.).
Working overtime as usual to keep her 19th-century home in good repair, Jacobia is delighted to have won a housekeeper for a month. But Bella Diamond is an unfortunately enthusiastic—one might say compulsive—housekeeper who drives the male members of Jake’s household crazy. During a quiet moment after a moose spits up in her kitchen, Jake negotiates for a less severe approach to cleaning house and discovers that Bella has been terrified by a series of vaguely threatening anonymous notes she thinks are being sent by her ex-husband, Jim. Gathering up her posse—best friend Ellie, Ellie’s infant Leonora and her son Sam’s not-quite-ex-girlfriend Maggie—Jake goes to confront Jim in hope of restoring Bella to housekeeping sanity. She finds Jim, clobbered by Bella’s cast iron pan, dying in an apartment that, however slovenly, seems a bit pricey for someone recently released from prison. Bella is the obvious suspect, but Jake won’t rest until she finds out who really whacked her ex.
Not every wall is plumb, but the tale holds up for a few hours of cozy entertainment.