Piecing together the evidence . . . Genealogist Sophreena McClure is an expert at unearthing other people’s secrets. Using old documents and photographs, Soph and her business partner, Esme Sabatier—also a gifted medium—trace family histories and create heritage scrapbooks. Their latest client, Dorothy Pritchett Porter, is thrilled with their research into Morningside’s most prestigious clan. But before Dorothy can proudly display her new scrapbooks on Founders’ Day, she’s found...
Piecing together the evidence . . .
Genealogist Sophreena McClure is an expert at unearthing other people’s secrets. Using old documents and photographs, Soph and her business partner, Esme Sabatier—also a gifted medium—trace family histories and create heritage scrapbooks. Their latest client, Dorothy Pritchett Porter, is thrilled with their research into Morningside’s most prestigious clan. But before Dorothy can proudly display her new scrapbooks on Founders’ Day, she’s found murdered. It seems the ties that bind can also strangle, for Dorothy has been killed using the Pritchett family pearls.
Pegged as prime suspects, Sophreena and Esme turn their investigative skills from the dearly departed to the alive and dangerous, hoping to pin down the real killer among Dorothy’s kinfolk. Sophreena’s scrapbooking club members, crafty in more ways than one, pitch in to help. As the Pritchett ancestral roots turn out to be more tangled than anyone suspected, Sophreena wonders just how many skeletons lurk in this family closet—and whether she and Esme are destined to join them. . . .
Sophie and her business partner, Esme, have a family history research business, staying gainfully employed by exploring family trees and then arranging the results in scrapbooks for people who are curious about their backgrounds. When one of their clients, the difficult and powerful Dorothy Pritchett Porter, is strangled to death, the small North Carolina town is stunned. While authorities investigate, Sophie and Esme continue working on Dorothy's project in preparation for her memorial service. While many are suspicious of Dorothy's estranged husband, there are plenty of other suspects: her sister, townsfolk with grudges, a mysterious man who might be a relative, and even her closest friend. Finally, Sophie and Esme stumble over an extra branch in Dorothy's family tree that points the way. VERDICT Bonner successfully combines an intriguing cast with the promise of an unfolding romance and a spritz of the paranormal in her winning cozy debut. Consider pairing with titles by Katheen Ernst and Jennifer Chiaverini for historical context and tone. Sure also to be popular with fans of NBC's popular genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are? [See Prepub Alert, 10/08/12.]
Genealogists Sophreena McClure and Esme Sabatier make their debut in this innocuous first in a new cozy series from Bonner (Echoes from the Past and five other novels as Ellen Harris). The Morningside Village, N.C., duo make an odd pair; Sophie, who is part Asian, barely reaches five feet, while Esme, a Creole with an uncertain gift as a spiritual medium, towers at six foot two. When client Dorothy Pritchett Porter, whose family tree they’re researching, is discovered slain and a valuable family ring goes missing, the pair suffer from both police suspicion and town rumors. Thankfully, there are plenty of other suspects, since Dorothy, one of the town’s movers and shakers, had offended plenty of people, including some of her relatives. Bonner adds a nice mix of genealogical scrapbooking info and mild romantic entanglements, but telegraphs too many clues that weaken the mystery. Agent: Cynthia Manson, Cynthia Manson Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Brynn Bonner grew up in Alabama and lives in North Carolina. She was a working journalist, a high school teacher, a university instructor, and a full-time mother before beginning to write fiction. Both her literary fiction and mysteries frequently reflect the landscapes and the genuine people of her southern heritage—with an abiding emphasis on characters and their relationships to one another and to their place in the world. She has penned six novels writing as Ellen Harris. Her short stories have been featured in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Futures, Now and Then, Crossroads, and other publications.