Sunday, January 22, 2012

Deader Homes & Gardens-Joan Hess

Deader Homes & Gardens

Joan Hess

Minotaur, Feb 14 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312363628

Bookseller Claire Malloy and police lieutenant Peter Rosen return home to Farberville, Arkansas after spending their odd honeymoon in Luxor, Egypt (see Mummy Dearest). However, first order of business is finding a place to live as the married couple and her teenage daughter Caron need more space.

After a week of failure hunting for a house without Peter who is busy working but with Caron, Claire finds the perfect home in Hollow Valley. She goes to close the deal with realtor Angela Delmond, who drove her to this house, but following a phone call the woman vanished; stranding Claire. A second shock occurs when Claire goes inside to get her purse and sees octogenarian Moses Hollow drinking Bordeaux. Nattie Hollow-Brown soon arrives and takes Angela to a nearby tavern for her to make a call. Later, Angela cannot find the realtor whose office hides something seemingly sinister and she learns the owner Winston died under mysterious circumstances; his lover Terry of Key West says the house is not for sale. When Terry dies, Claire knows she must catch a killer if the house is to belong to her and her family.

The latest Malloy amateur sleuth (see Closely Akin to Murder) tale is a zany regional whodunit as one learns that even with a recession realty is a killer market. Deader Homes & Gardens is fast-paced with a breezy amusing tongue in cheek undertone starting with the jocular opening refrain of “… my kingdom for a house.” Fans of the series will wonder what next will happen to anyone associated with the house not for sale in Hollow Valley.

Harriet Klausner

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