Mystery Books for Sale

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by Mindy Quigley
Saint Martin's, December 2023
320 pages
ISBN: 1250792479

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Deliah O'Leary's catering gig for a fundraising event gets challenging before the party begins. The hostess calls the upscale pizzeria kitchen just as the staff packs all the prepared food and pleads with Deliah to create a "free-form” pizza for one of the wealthiest guests, good for a sizeable contribution. The guest has allergies to almost everything on a pizza – wheat, cheese, tomatoes, meat – so Deliah must create a tasty alternative.

The special request requires a last-minute shopping trip for the special ingredients and transportation via a boat sent by the event's hostess, Pam Phillips. Deliah's staff has already traveled to the location to unload and begin preparations for the 1920's 1920s-themed Speakeasy Soiree.

Detective Calvin Capone and his mother Lola – Al Capone descendants – fit in with the theme, and Lola, an accomplished singer, is scheduled to perform. And then Deliah is surprised by the appearance of Butterball, the cat who owns the mansion where Deliah lives and cares for the feline.

Things take an interesting turn when Edgar Clemmons, the outgoing chair of the Friends of the Library Board, approaches Deliah and gives her two rare books with a strange message for her to give her friend and co-worker Sonya. Things get stranger still when Clemmons falls down the staircase and is pronounced dead.

Unfortunately, a nasty storm delays police response, so almost everyone leaves until a falling tree blocks the exit trapping a few guests along with the catering crew. Detective Capone tries to figure out who might have pushed Clemmons, and when Isabel Berney, head librarian, is found murdered, he assumes the murderer is among the few folks trapped by the fallen tree.

Mindy Quigley concocts a finely layered mystery with an imaginative collection of red herrings and twists that engage the reader in this creatively paced adventure. And Butterball, along with the hostess' cat Gloria, provides amusing relief.

§ Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton's, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, November 2023

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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