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by Lou Allin
Rendezvous Crime, September 2007
296 pages
ISBN: 1894917332

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Have you ever wondered what became of that romance from high school? That person you lusted after but never got really close to? Belle Palmer finds out, and it disrupts her life for a little while.

Gary Myers turns out to be her new neighbor, renting a house down the road for a while. He’s doing some research in the area, something to do with elks, the environment, and habitats. His biggest question is what killed the baby albino elk he found.

Gary was Belle’s high school crush, one she did manage to date after stalking him for a while (not that it was called that back then, but Belle realizes that’s what she was doing). The romance never really got off the ground, and Belle never knew why. Now she knows.

While Belle is reconnecting with Gary, she is also dealing with someone new in her office. Miriam’s on vacation, and her substitute is a young woman named YoYo. As one might expect, YoYo doesn’t wear Chanel suits to work or sensible shoes. YoYo’s also a little more pregnant than Belle expects, and Belle wasn’t prepared at all for that little bombshell. Still, YoYo runs the office efficiently and doesn’t upset the clientele. That’s a plus.

Belle and Gary don’t get much time to catch up on each other’s lives when Gary’s body is found, drowned. It seems to be an accident, and Belle really isn’t looking for trouble. She just wants to help Gary’s partner Mutt (Malcolm Malloy) tend to all those noxious details, the cleaning and packing up of a life now gone. Somehow that process turns into something dangerous for Belle and those around her.

This is Belle Palmer’s fourth murder. You’d think she’d have become a little bit used to it by now, but not so. She is trying to juggle a business, get her garden in, and help a friend of a friend. Her father is in the hospital, first with a nasty skin condition and then back again with pneumonia. This sort of thing tends to keep her mind occupied, and not as focused on the big picture. Belle is a woman of a certain age, confronting her own mortality as her father gets closer to death and her secretary gets closer to giving birth.

While the plot is not earth-shattering, the characters are what give this series life. This is a great little cozy mystery to take one’s mind off the winter outside.

Reviewed by P. J. Coldren, December 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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