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"The likable Joan Spencer handles wedding disasters, family secrets, even murder with equal aplomb. This is a thoroughly enjoyable visit to small-town Indiana.” -- Beverly Graves Myers, the Tito Amato mysteries
Posted April 30, 2013
After a fairly steady diet of late of thrillers, serial killers and the like, it was a pleasure to delve back into the small-town atmosphere of Oliver, Indiana. In her latest appearance, Joan Spencer is leading a more-than-usually hectic life. In addition to her usual jobs [part-time manager of the Oliver Civic Symphony, and part-time orchestra music librarian, in addition to her regular job as director of the senior center in town] and the fact that it’s almost Christmas, it is only a few days before her daughter’s wedding, with its attendant chaos. Added to which is the fact that her brother, seven years older than she, from whom she has heard nothing for years, not only accepts her invitation, but unexpectedly shows up a week early. But no one could have anticipated his murder not long after his arrival, stabbed to death in the kitchen of the bed-and-breakfast where the out-of-town wedding guests were staying; and the personal implications for Joan and her family do not end there.
Complicating matters is the appearance of various friends and family members who converge on the small town for the wedding, primarily Fred’s mother, suffering from an as-yet-undiagnosed form of dementia, and the groom’s irascible mother. Fred, Joan’s policeman husband, is of course not allowed to have any part in the ensuing investigation, though he manages to keep abreast of most aspects. Joan is increasingly worried, since the police have virtually no clues as to the identity of the murderer, fearing that other family members may be targeted as well. Her brother had quite a past, of which she had been unaware, including a stint in prison. And his well-known, and well-deserved, reputation as a ladies man widens the pool of potential suspects.
Although as the ending neared I thought I knew the identity of the killer, I was wrong, and it was a surprising finish.
This is a welcome addition to the series, with its contingent of [mostly] likeable characters and the familiar small-town setting. Thoroughly enjoyable, it is recommended.