By: Lorraine Bartlett
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Publication Date: February 2012
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: February 7, 2012
Katie Bonner always had her heart set on owning McKinlay Mill’s charming Victorian inn, but when her late husband Chad rashly invested in Artisans “money pit” Alley, it wasn’t going to happen. Katie would just have to settle for being the owner and manager of Artisan’s Alley, a place where excitement happened only when one of her crafters was in a snit or last year when poor Ezra Hilton was bludgeoned to death at the bottom of a staircase. Katie had to admit that murder was good for business when every rubberneck in town showed up to look at the spot Ezra had sprawled on, but it was business she could do without. Now Polly Bremerton was picking on poor Edie Silver, a low-end crafter. Puh-lease, ladies!
Katie had enough to contend with without having to be a referee at the latest cat fight at Artisans. She would soon be homeless if she didn’t find an apartment to rent by the end of the month and gawd only knew why she accepted Gilda Ringwald’s offer to be her Matron of Honor. Katie’s little favor was going to turn into a lot of them...party favors. How in tarnation did she manage to get herself in such a mess? Andy Rush, her new beau, wanted her to move in with him, but that certainly wasn’t going to happen any time soon. It was time to take a breather and go visit the new owners of The Grand Victoria Inn.
Toby and Janice Ryan were more than willing to extend a welcoming hand and a sledge hammer so Katie could help with a bit of demolition. She wistfully thought of her dream of renovating the mansion and calling it the “English Ivy Inn.” Taking a whack at the walls would provide a bit of exercise and much needed stress relief. A few swings later caught them staring back into the horrifyingly blank eye sockets of a blond, skeletal corpse that had been holed up in the wall. Katie was in a state of shock and didn’t know what to say, but “never-charming” Detective Ray Davenport did. “You seem to attract death, Mrs. Bonner.” No kidding, and this wouldn’t be the only corpse connected with the mansion and one of them just might be Katie’s. Who was that naked blond bombshell behind the wall and how did she get there? Mr. Collier, McKinlay Mill’s funeral director, might not have just one, but three visitors to his parlor before all was said and done!
Katie Bonner is the type of no-nonsense, spunky gal that everyone will fall in love with. As soon as Heather Winston’s corpse was found behind that wall I was totally hooked and was anxious to find out just how she got there. Of course with the many twists and turns in this mystery it wasn’t going to be easy to find out whodunit, especially since the murderer was still on the loose after twenty-two years. Bartlett is getting into her stride early in this series, one that will knock the reader’s knitted socks off when they read about Katie Bonner’s latest foray into murder, madness,mystery, and mayhem in Artisans Alley. Murder its not until someone is caught and if anyone can do it, amateur sleuth Bonner is up to the task...again.
Quill says: This mystery is over-the-top and (almost literally) off the wall fantastic.