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by Claudia Bishop
Berkley, November 2007
224 pages
ISBN: 0425218341

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

This holiday season isn't a good one for the Quilliam sisters, Sarah (Quill) and Meg. Their Inn At Hemlock Falls, along with its restaurant, hasn't shown a profit in months and the bank is close to calling in their large loan.

Well-known artist Quill has done everything she can to get people interested in the Inn, including painting a beautiful picture for a new brochure. Their friends who also run businesses tell her that there is nothing more she can do, but she's filled with guilt. Meg is the best chef in all of upstate New York, but even her great food concoctions in the restaurant at the inn isn't bringing customers in.

So when business tycoon Zeke 'the Hammer' Kingsfield and his wife Lydia, who run an impressive magazine and cooking show on TV, make an offer to use the inn's name on some jams, jellies and pickles and to use the kitchen for the filming of the cooking show for a lot of money, Quill gets Meg to okay it and they think their troubles are over. Wrong.

Along with the money comes a consultant from the bank whose job it is to look over all aspects of the business and give advice that they should follow to make more profits even if it takes the quality of the inn down. And they find that their old schoolfriend Lydia is more of a snob than ever and goes about pointing out things that just must be changed in the decor of the inn and restaurant. Both sisters are not happy.

Then the tycoon takes a tumble off their skiing trail and the cops call it an accident, his wife is going to call in the lawyers to sue the sisters for everything they have. That would mean the end of everything, their business and all their money.

But Quill looks around and questions people and sees that the death was no accident but a planned murder. When the cops won't agree and call all the evidence circumstantial the Quilliam women once again must put on their private eye hats and, with help from their friends, go about trying to prove that the death was murder and that they aren't responsible for it.

This is the 15th in this series and it's another fun read. The book is a bit unusual in that it's mostly about the way the sisters handle the money problems and react to criticism to their inn. We don't get to see a murder mystery till rather late in the story, but this cozy really relies on the readers' bond with the Quilliam sisters and knowing how they react to problems in their business is of key importance.

Fans of the series will of course love A CAROL FOR A CORPSE. The book stands on its own and newcomers to the series will also feel right at home as the back story is only touched on when needed. No one will feel as if they are missing anything, for this solid and gracious book welcomes the readers in right away and serves up a fine cozy murder mystery. And don't forget to look at Meg's mouth-watering holiday recipes at the back of the book!

Reviewed by A. L. Katz, October 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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