Seattle-native Mary Richardson Daheim writes the Alpine mystery series, but this new-to-paperback offering is in her Bed-And-Breakfast Mysteries, featuring Judith McGonigle Flynn.
Judith’s assorted friends and relatives feature in the series, and with the huge roster of players in this installment,newcomers to the series may feel overwhelmed and wish for a Cast of Characters to keep them straight. But long time readers of the series will figure out who’s who in this quick and snappy summer cozy.
January is a slow time for Judith at the B&B, so she’s grateful her former-detective-turned-PI husband, Joe, has a new assignment. Unfortunately, his surveillance job ends almost as quickly as it started, with the death of an insurance fraud suspect he was supposed to be shadowing. The negatives pile up when it turns out the victim has been shot with Joe’s gun–or has he?
With Joe sequestered away at the police station, Judith faces the prospect of a houseful of laborious guests, the winners of an overnight stay she donated to her parish school auction earlier in the year. It’s pay-up time, and while Judith copes with the Paine family’s various allergies and special diets, other guests come and go in seemingly unrelated one night stays.
Adding to the tension is Judith’s mother, Gertrude, a persnickety gal who lives behind the B&B in a converted tool shed and manages to show up in her motorized wheelchair just in time to stamp on Judith’s last nerve.
Judith’s cousin Renie is also on hand to be a hot-wire foil to Judith’s more laid back personality, and Renie’s calmer husband Bill manages to get involved as the plot thickens with overlapping and numerous threads. There are sick parish schoolkids, a horse lodging in her garage, and a missing house guest. In the middle of the chaos, Judith is conned into housing two villagers without heat in their own home who turn up to stay the night with their Irish Wolfhound in tow.
The plot is convoluted with tons of mayhem causing distractions that may or may not be involved with the main plot. It is to Daheim’s credit that she manages to pull these threads together and keep Judith whole, although she does allow her protaginist the occasional sorely needed medicinal drink.
New this month in hardcover is the next in the series, The Wurst is Yet to Come; readers of the paperback of All the Pretty Hearses will be treated to an excerpt of the new hardcover at the books’ end.