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by Nancy Atherton
Penguin, February 2006
288 pages
ISBN: 0143036548

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lori Shepherd is an American living in England. An old friend of the family, aunt Dimity, died a few years earlier and she willed her home and estate in England to Lori and her family. But even though aunt Dimity is long dead she still keeps in contact with Lori by writing in a very special book whenever Lori needs to talk with her.

Once again Lori needs Dimity's useful advice. While volunteering in a hospital, Lori meets and befriends a patient, Miss Beacham, a very intelligent woman who shares a lot of similar interests with her. Lori thinks that Miss Beacham is an older woman who is barely able to pay her bills and seems to be all alone in the world.

Lori visits Miss Beacham quite a few days each week telling the sick woman about everyone in Lori's life, including her husband, sons, friends, and the shopkeepers in her small town.

Miss Beacham soon succumbs to her illness and dies. Lori is very upset and would like to do something for the dead woman. Miss Beacham had mentioned a younger brother and Lori would like to find him to tell him about his sister's death.

Amazingly, a few days after Miss Beacham's death Lori receives a letter from her in the mail. Miss Beacham had instructed her lawyer to mail Lori the letter telling her that Lori can have anything in her apartment but she especially wanted Lori to have a certain desk.

Lori soon learns that Miss Beacham sent letters to Lori's friends. Miss Beacham had listened to all of Lori's stories about the people in her town and left them some funds that would help with their problems.

But, how could an older woman who could barely pay her bills have so much money? Lori soon learns that Miss Beacham was not as old as she looked and was a far cry from being poor. When Lori goes to her dead friend's apartment she finds that it is filled with very expensive, antique furniture.

After looking around in Miss Beacham's apartment Lori finds the desk was left to her. In the desk she finds a photo album with pictures of Miss Beacham's family from many years ago, including pictures of a younger brother. Lori is convinced that Miss Beacham wanted her to find her younger brother.

As Lori starts to investigate she discovers some things about Miss Beacham, which made her realize that she didn't really know her friend at all.

AUNT DIMITY AND THE NEXT OF KIN is just as much fun as all the other stories in this delightful cozy series. There is always some kind of death in the book but author Nancy Atherton doesn't dwell on it. You will not find any gory, gruesome death in this series.

The characters are thoroughly likable and the Midlands region of England, where Lori and her family and friends live, sounds like heaven on Earth.

Even though aunt Dimity takes a back seat in the series she is the person who helps tie all the clues together and gives Lori motherly advice as well.

The aunt Dimity series is incredibly entertaining. There is never any real mystery and nothing in the stories makes you hold your breath waiting for the next big clue to drop. The books are fun, easygoing, and the characters and location are welcoming.

Each book is a stand-alone and I suggest you try them out. Read AUNT DIMITY AND THE NEXT OF KIN, you'll be glad you did.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, March 2006

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