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by Maya Corrigan
Kensington, July 2017
314 pages
ISBN: 1496709179

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Val Deniston is trying to keep her coffee shop at the local gym open and also keep an eye on her grandfather. Not a good combination, as anyone who has ever tried to run a small business AND have a personal life knows all too well. When her grandfather abruptly changes his appearance for no understandable reason, Val is suspicious. She's out shopping with a friend when she sees a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to the "new" grandfather stumble and fall in the mall parking lot. Rushing to his aid, she sees that it is not her grandfather; the man dies in spite of the CPR that Val gives him and the efforts of an ambulance crew.

Val is catering a dinner for a local book group when she finds out why her grandfather has a new look; he is impersonating an author, Rick Usher. This author not only looks like her grandfather, he also looks too much like the dead man (local actor Emmett Flint) for Val to walk away. Then she learns that her boyfriend Gunnar had a knock-down drag-out fight with Emmett the night before Emmett died. No way is Val going to leave this whole mess alone. There are further complications related to her place of business and to the family of Usher; these keep Val on her toes as she tries to keep her grandfather out of the whole mess. Not easy, not possible.

Corrigan has a good story and tells it reasonably well. Val is one of those women whose imagination has a tendency to run marathons where most people's would take a quick walk around the block. She is willing to take advice from her friends (and pay attention to it), and to step back and rethink the options. This saves her from being a charter member of the "Too Stupid to Live" club. The characters are believable, which is a real plus. Anyone familiar with Edgar Allen Poe and the folklore surrounding him and his life will enjoy the few liberties Corrigan has taken. Five of the six recipes included are quick and easy; the more challenging one looks like it might be worth the effort - another bonus.

§ I have been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and read broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. I have been a preliminary judge for the Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Press Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Contest for at least 25 years. I live in Northern lower Michigan with my spousal unit, one large cat, and 2 fairly small dogs. My Sherlockian (BSI) nom-de-plume is VR; my license plate is BSI VR

Reviewed by PJ Coldren, May 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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