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by Allan J. Emerson
Five Star, May 2015
264 pages
ISBN: 1432830694

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Sometimes with hindsight we can see that life has cleverly and without our knowing prepared us for something we will experience later. From the outset, DEATH OF A BRIDE AND GROOM made me realize that a long ago family reunion held in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee was just the experience I needed to have in my memory to believe that anything like the setting for this novel could actually exist. Pigeon Forge attracts romancing couples with all kinds of attractions (yup! Dollywood's there) and they range from bumper cars to putt-putt golf to drive-through wedding chapels. Had I not seen it . . . And as a side point, Great Smokies National Park is also there and that is to die for.

Anyway, I did not have as much trouble coping with the setting of this novel and I could have. In Allan Emerson's imagination, somewhere outside of Vancouver there is a little mill-town that has plunged to the brink of bankruptcy since the mill closed. In a stroke of genius, the city council has the great idea to change the name of the town to Honeymoon Falls, advertise it as the Romance Capital of the World, and rely on the drop-dead local scenery to draw a never-ending stream of tourists with money to spend. Townspeople jump aboard with all kinds of romantic events planned throughout the warm weather and the town once again bustles with activity and steady income.

A pair of city council members, the elderly Dellbrook sisters, were bringing a float into town from the old mill site for the Honeymoon Daze parade but had trouble seeing through the slit in the front of the thirty foot two layer wedding cake the high school students had built. Somehow they missed the road they wanted and entered the freeway instead. Going the wrong way. Into oncoming traffic. No backing up was possible (no viewing slit in the back) so they tried to make a U-turn. Slowly, of course.

Two trucks ended up in a drainage ditch -- at least nobody got hurt -- and the two old ladies were placed in a cell in the town jail.

When the float is examined in the police parking lot, the bodies of a local man and woman who are married to other people are discovered inside the structure, dressed in the wedding gown and tuxedo that the mannekins on the top were supposed to be wearing. So the Dellbrooks now face arrest on suspicion of murder. And we've made it to page 15.

Most mysteries described as cosies incorporate a bizarre situation or two and equally odd characters. Allan Emerson pushes the envelope. No, he doesn't. He rips it up. Most of the inhabitants of this town seem to have slept with lots of other inhabitants they should not have slept with and a large number of them see their purpose in life as raking in as much money as possible from the moonstruck couples who visit this place in droves. A few specialize in nasty gossip and public humiliation of others for the fun of it. At least two are certifiable. There is gratuitous sex and nudity. And why not? Nearly everything in this novel is gratuitous and I actually mean that in a positive way.

I could mention that it's hard to find characters with redeeming qualities here. Well, maybe there are a couple. The point is, I did not care. I was laughing too hard.

Take this book to the mountains or the beach or wherever you go to get away and forget about your real life. It's a hoot!

Diana Borse is retired from teaching English at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and savoring the chance to read as much as she always wanted to.

Reviewed by Diana Borse, April 2015

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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