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by Vicki Doudera
Midnight Ink, April 2010
318 pages
ISBN: 0738719501

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Darby Farr has a great business out in California, selling real estate. She's gotten about as far away from Hurricane Harbor, Maine as she can get, and just as far away from her aunt Jane Farr. Aunt Jane is the woman who raised Darby after her parents died. Aunt Jane is, and has always been, a very controlling person. This doesn't stop now that Jane is dying. She wants Darby to complete one last real estate deal for her. So off Darby goes, back to Maine.

Once in Maine, Darby finds out that the deal is not as final as she thought. It all blows up when an ancient deed restriction turns up at a zoning board meeting, a restriction that blows the deal. A back-up buyer is found on the property, murdered. Are the two connected? Is one of the sellers the murderer? Did Aunt Jane know about the restriction? Will yet another buyer step in and complete the sale or can the original buyer still make the sale work? Do the original sellers really want to sell the house? So many questions and Darby needs to answer most of them in order to go back to California.

Darby finds somebody to help her with all the questions, a journalist. Miles Porter is handsome,

and that never hurts. She also finds lots of secrets, some of them about her own family. As

always, bringing secrets out into the open places people in danger, and Darby is no exception to this rule.

Doudera's novel combines a good puzzle with good characters, and places them in a setting both

beautiful and dangerous. Not a bad place to start! There are some moments of TSTL (Too Stupid To Live), and Darby's casual treatment of her cell phone seems unusual for a realtor from the techno-geek state of California. The actual detecting seemed quite minimal until the very end of the book and then it fell together quite fortuitously. Basically, the last couple of chapters seemed more unbelievable than usual. Still, Doudera kept me reading and interested, right through all those moments of "oh, really!" If a ripping good story is more important than a solid ending, A HOUSE TO DIE FOR is worth the effort. Darby Farr has a lot going for her.

P.J. Coldren lives in northern lower Michigan where she reads and reviews widely across the mystery genre when she isn't working in her local hospital pharmacy.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, May 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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