Claire Malloy discovers that house-hunting can be murder—literally—in the latest entry in Joan Hess's "wildly entertaining series." (Mystery Scene)
Back from her somewhat unusual honeymoon, Claire Malloy must face the harsh reality of life with her new husband, police chief Peter Rosen, and her teenage daughter Caron—three people simply can't fit into her cosy two bedroom apartment. After a week of fruitless looking, she finally finds the perfect
place—a well preserved large house on a large plot of land in an area called Hollow Valley. There are only a few problems. Such as the real estate agent disappeared mid-showing and hasn't been seen since. And the last owner died in circumstances labeled 'accidental' but were actually both 'mysterious' and 'dubious'. The family that owned the estate is now suing the lover of the dead owner over the rights to the property. Oh, and it isn't really for sale. When the previous owner's lover dies practically at her feet, Claire decides to take matters into her own hands. After all, to get the house of her dreams, first she has to find a killer. And all's fair in love, war, and real estate.
At the start of Hess's snappy, sassy 18th Clare Malloy mystery (after 2008's Mummy Dearest), Claire, who's just returned from "a decidedly adventurous honeymoon in Egypt" with her new husband, deputy police chief Peter Rosen, realizes that her small apartment in central Farberville, Ark., isn't big enough for her, Peter, and her 17-year-old daughter, Caron. On the outskirts of town, Clare discovers a roomy 19th-century house on a large lot that she immediately falls in love with. The abrupt disappearance of the real estate agent showing the house heralds a host of complications. The house's late owner, Winston Martinson, died under mysterious circumstances, and now current owner Terry Kennedy, Winston's dotty gay lover, has his doubts about selling. Terry eventually offers Clare a lease, but he suffers a fatal collapse before the deal can go through. A cast of eccentric supporting characters, including nursery owner Ethan Hollow and his hippie wife, Pandora Butterfly Saraswati, add local color.
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Deader Homes and Gardens
An excellent read, period.