At the start of this so-so novel of romantic suspense from Corwin (The Bricklayer’s Helper), Cassie Edwards comes to Peyton, N.C., to house-sit for her weird uncle, Frank, and his wife, who have supposedly gone to West Virginia to visit friends. To her surprise, Cassie discovers Frank in the woods behind his purple house, sharing a joint with Nick Gracie, bodyguard of the county’s biggest tycoon. The oblivious Frank doesn’t notice that Nick is dead. Cassie urges the police to look past her uncle as the obvious suspect, while hiding what she learns about Frank’s involvement in the local marijuana trade from authorities she’s prone to distrust. Cassie tries to piece together the real story herself, without letting her mutual attraction to wannabe writer Sheriff Jim Fletcher compromise his ability to help her clear Frank. Strong pacing and dialogue make up only in part for standard plot twists that may shock the characters but not the reader. (Dec.)
A woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown agrees to housesit, only to be faced with murder. Think you're stressed? Cassie Edwards' job working with computer servers has her fighting ulcers even before she arrives at little Peyton, N.C., to discover her uncle, a renowned botanist, sitting in a chair on a stream bank trying to share his cannabis with a dead man. Sure that gentle Uncle Frank would never murder anyone, she tries to clean up the crime scene before the police arrive and arrest the elderly stoner, who's now back at the house baking the special brownies she can only hope do not contain a secret ingredient. The sheriff, Jim Fletcher, is the brother of Cassie's best friend and her former high school crush. Although he still finds her attractive, both she and her uncle are on his list of suspects for killing the murdered man, a bodyguard for another high school classmate. Things get even worse when Cassie discovers a hidden room in her uncle's greenhouse packed with marijuana plants--far too many simply to help with his glaucoma. Fed up with his inability to give up pot, Frank's wife, Sylvia, has left him. So Cassie's the only one to protect Frank. When she burns her find in the backyard, she turns on the whole town and brings Jim to her door. Then, Frank is arrested by one of Jim's ambitious deputies, and Cassie, determined to solve this case on her own, dredges up secrets that could put her next on the killer's list. Corwin, the veteran of many romance novels and historical romantic mysteries (A Rose Before Dying, 2011, etc.), adds a modern mystery, amusing but easy to solve.