Members of a mystery book club find that the events from their favorite murder mysteries are coming true in their own quiet Winnipeg neighborhood, in Catherine Hunter's The Dead of Midnight
Members of the Mystery au Lait Café book club can't get enough of the Midnight Mystery Series--until the books' terrifying crimes begin to happen for real in the quiet town where the club meets. Someone is imitating the Midnight Mystery murders and killing off the book club, one member at a time. Meanwhile, sales of the series skyrocket as attention is drawn to the books and to the club where the craze began.
When both the ex-wife and current girlfriend of local musician Peter Petursson are terrorized, many conclude that Peter's is the cruel hand behind the reenactments. But there are still leads to follow and evidence to be gathered . . .
Perhaps one of the book club members has a twisted side that just hasn't shown itself over coffee and cookies at the meetings. Maybe the café owner is willing to lose a few loyal customers in exchange for a flurry of new ones. Or maybe the publisher simply knows good publicity when he sees it.
Canadian poet Hunter makes her U.S. debut with an enjoyably quirky cast of characters and an intriguing (though not totally fulfilled) premise. A book group meets regularly at the Mystery Au Lait Caf to discuss mysteries, and lately they're hooked on a series dubbed the Midnight Mystery Series. The books, published by a local small press and authored by a mysterious writer, are connected by the fact that the murders in each book take place at midnight. As sales and anticipation for each new release build dramatically, members of the group experience incidents eerily like those in the books. Sarah Petursson, estranged from her musician-husband, Peter, is attacked just like a character in the first book in the series. Later, Peter's current girlfriend, journalist Cady Brown, is brutally murdered, again in a fashion detailed in one of the books. Somehow connected to all these murderous events is the work of Sarah's late mother, a Canadian poet of some repute, who died when Sarah was a child. Someone could it be the murderer? is after the late poet's papers and, in turn, these papers seem somehow connected to the real identity of the Midnight Mystery Series author. Though experienced mystery fans will have figured out a number of the plot twists well ahead of the book's amateur sleuths, Hunter handles her complex plot and large cast of characters with great skill. Correction: The literary agent for Peter Tremayne's Our Lady of Darkness: A Celtic Mystery(Forecasts, Aug. 12) is Charles Schlessiger at Brandt & Brandt.