Murder is no laughing matter—especially when it comes to marriage. So before Luanne gets in too deep with her new flame, a dentist named Dick, she'd like her best friend to do a background check. Did Dick murder his two previous wives? That's what Arkansas bookseller and amateur sleuth Claire Malloy intends to discover…
Everything Claire turns up on this would-be blue-beard keeps leading her down a slippery slope. The police are determined to prove Dick guilty of double homicide, but Claire's not so sure. Something about his story just doesn't add up. But if Dick didn't do the deed, who did? The only thing Claire knows for sure is that Luanne won't have a moment's rest until she finds out…
Hess's trademark humor shines in her ninth mystery (after Poisoned Pins ) to feature Claire Malloy, bookstore owner in Farberville, Ark. Claire's friend Luanne is having an affair with dentist Dick Cissel, a possible suspect in the recent death of his second wife. Luanne, who hopes Claire will investigate and turn up a more likely suspect, overcomes her friend's reluctance by finding a needed summer job for Claire's daughter Caron--at a bird sanctuary run by the Dunling Foundation. Claire's doubts about Dick's innocence increase when she learns that his first wife drowned during a midnight swim--in the same lake where the second wife was blown to smithereens while driving the damaged Dunling Foundation boat. Captain Gannett, the local sheriff, shares Claire's doubts but resents her meddling in his investigation. Claire continues her probe, spurred on by the murder of the handyman in charge of the Foundation's boat, and is thrown in jail by Gannett for withholding evidence. Rescued, to her chagrin, by her policeman lover Peter, she resolves to get to the bottom of the mysterious deaths by herself and ferrets out an unexpected scam and a follow-up conspiracy. Hess's low-key humor and bull's-eye dialogue are reason enough to read anything she writes; solid plotting and deft characterization make this latest doubly rewarding. Mystery Guild selection.