Deader Homes & Gardens

July 24, 2013 - Deader Homes & Gardens (Joan Hess). Bookstore owner Claire Malloy catches the killer and gets the home of her dreams in this latest entry in the series.

Claire, her new husband, deputy police chief Peter Rosen, and her daughter, Caron, have returned from an adventurous honeymoon in Egypt. Now, the three of them are crammed into Claire's two-bedroom apartment in Farberville, Arkansas. The too cozy conditions have Claire on the hunt for a house. She thinks she's found the perfect one in a place called Hollow Valley, about 20 minutes outside town. But, before Claire can do the deed, so to speak, her realtor disappears.

Claire refuses to let the lack of a realtor get in the way of getting the house. She tracks down Terry, the man who lived in the house with his partner, Winston Martinson, a direct descendant of the Hollow who first settled Hollow Valley. Winston died recently under mysterious circumstances. Now, Terry seems keen to sell the house to Claire and get on with his life. But, before he can do that, his life also ends under mysterious circumstances.

Claire is left with no house, at least two bodies, and a family that has more characters than one of Shakespeare's comedies. She makes it her mission to expose the shady side of Hollow Valley before her husband returns from his duties with a federal task force.

Like the previous book, this one is just over 300 pages, and the case is not resolved until the end when Claire gathers the suspects in a room and the truth comes blurting out. But, despite the somewhat rushed ending, I found the book funny and enjoyable. A nice rebound from the previous book, and hopefully, a good sign of books to come.