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CRIME AND PUNCTUATION
by Kaitlyn Dunnett
Kensington, May 2018
278 pages
$26.00
ISBN: 1496712552


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Mikki Lincoln has moved back to her hometown; after her husband died, there really was nothing keeping her in Maine. She bought the house in which she grew up. Sadly, it needs quite a bit of work, more than her limited retirement income will provide. Having spent a lot of time as a language arts teacher gives her the skills she needs to make money as a free-lance editor. One of her first clients is a local woman, Tiffany Scott. Tiffany is married to a controlling man named Gregory Onslow. Her grandmother is a woman that Mikki didn't get along with particularly well back in high school, Veronica Rappaport North. Greg doesn't know Tiffany wrote a novel. Veronica and Gregory are on opposite sides of a possible rejuvenation project.

A few days after Tiffany visits Mikki, Detective Hazlett of the Lenape Hollow Police Department drops in unexpectedly and uninvited. He wants to know how Tiffany came to have Mikki's card on her person when she died, possibly a murder victim. He wants all the details from her and will give few, if any, in return. After he leaves, Mikki goes over to Darlene Uberman's house to decompress. Darlene is one of Mikki's BFFs from high school. Darlene stayed in Lenape Hollow and so is au courant on all the local gossip, networking, petty (and not so petty) arguments. When Detective Hazlett refuses to even consider some obvious suspects (can you say "spouse"?), Mikki decides she has to do something. The more she reads of Tiffany's historical novel, the more Mikki is convinced that Gregory and his associates had something to do with her death. There are other suspects; Mikki doesn't ignore these possibilities. She is just convinced that Gregory is not a good man. She may well be correct. There are personal as well as financial motives, not just for Gregory; the relationships are complex on many levels.

This is the first in a new series for Kaitlyn Dunnett. It is not her first book. She also writes the Liss MacCrimmon series. She writes as Kathy Lynn Emerson, and has multiple series under that name. She brings a wealth of experience to this book, and it shows. Her characters, the nice ones and the nasty ones, are true to themselves. They are the kinds of people one might expect to meet in a small town in New York State, or anywhere else, for that matter. Their lives are real and have depth. Dunnett's descriptions bring the town of Lenape Hollow to life. The setting certainly is not the most important part of this book, and still it has a place of its own. The story is suitably devious and convoluted without losing any believability; Dunnett plays fair with the reader, which is sometimes a pleasant surprise. All in all, this book shows off the skills that Dunnett has acquired over years of mystery writing. The tips at the back of the book are helpful as well.

§ 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.

Reviewed by PJ Coldren, May 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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