Callie Reed pays a long overdue visit to her aunt, Melodie, at her fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, which is home to a bevy of collectible shops on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Just as they're beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt's body on the floor of the music box shop she owns. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can't accept Melodie's death being ruled accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she in the shop in the middle of the night?
As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn't careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie's collection.
"Hughes kicks off her new Keepsake Cove series with a charming locale..."—Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries (Penguin), the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. A Fatal Collection is her debut with Midnight Ink. Visit her at www.MaryEllenHughes.com.
Read an Excerpt
A Fatal Collection
A Keepsake Cove Mystery
By Mary Ellen Hughes
Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.Copyright © 2017 Mary Ellen Hughes
All rights reserved.
Oh, you're here!" Callie's Aunt Melodie, a pretty, middle-aged woman in a blue shirt dress, ran around the counter of the music box shop to give Callie the best hug she'd had in ages. It felt wonderful.
"How was your drive? Did my directions make sense? Are you hungry?" The questions came rapid fire, giving Callie no chance to even think of answering. Then her aunt stepped back, still holding onto her niece but at arm's length to look Callie over head to toe. It was in such a totally loving way that Callie felt confident that her rumpled clothes and blond hair gone limp from the long, hot drive mattered little. She knew her strong resemblance to her father, Aunt Melodie's brother, still shone through in her slim build, blue eyes, and freckled upturned nose.
"Goodness!" her aunt said. "You've grown up since I last saw you at your dad's funeral in California. You were in college, then. How long ago was that? Eight years?
"Ten," Callie said, aware that her grimace revealed that they weren't exactly great years. Callie had spent a total of three semesters in college before dropping out. Her first bad decision. The second was falling for a struggling country western musician.
"I'm sorry it's been so long, Aunt Melodie. After I moved to Nashville, then West Virginia a couple of years ago, I really thought I could make the drive to Maryland much sooner. The time just, you know, slipped away."
"No worry," Aunt Melodie said, dismissing Callie's words with a loving hand squeeze. "You're here now. That's all that matters."
Callie noticed that her aunt didn't bring up the fact that Hank hadn't come with her. In her more recent emails, Callie had hinted at problems between them. She was hoping that this two day visit to Maryland's Eastern Shore would help clear her mind about what she was doing with her life. Maybe, at twenty-nine, it was time to figure out what she really wanted?
"Come on in," Aunt Melodie said, interrupting Callie's thoughts. "Let me show you around the shop real quick, then we'll head over to the cottage and give you a chance to rest up."
Her aunt had changed little since Callie had last seen her. She must be in her mid-fifties, Callie guessed, but looked and acted much younger, with a trim figure and light brown hair with just a hint of gray. Why had she never married? Had there been any relationships? There was a lot Callie didn't know about her aunt, who'd always lived so far away. Letters and emails were fine, but they didn't tell you everything.
"These are my quick-sale music boxes," her aunt said, waving her hand over a grouping of small music boxes clearly designed for children. The twirling ballerinas, boys or girls posed with praying hands on flower-trimmed pedestals, as well as a pink and sparkly unicorn covered a small table. "They're priced low and appeal to customers who are looking for a gift on their way home from Ocean City. We're right off the main route, you know, for vacationers heading back to Baltimore or D.C. Over here," Aunt Melodie said, leading Callie to the shelves against the wall, "are my music boxes for serious collectors."
Those boxes, Callie could instantly see, were of higher quality and the variety was wider. Her aunt lifted the lids of a huge silver Hershey's kiss, a round pill box, and a ceramic flower-topped box, flooding the shop with music.
Callie laughed with delight. "I thought you'd named your shop House of Melody after yourself. But it really is a house of melody!"
"I simply carried on the family tradition," Aunt Melodie said, smiling. "Daddy — your Grandpa Reed — started it all. He loved music boxes and named me Melodie because of that. He was the one who suggested your name — Calliope — to your mamma and daddy. He always had music on his mind, and Calliope, you know, was the Greek goddess of music."
Callie winced. "I much prefer Callie. But I appreciated — eventually — the sentiment."
Callie felt a twinge of sadness thinking about her parents. She still missed her father, and her mother had recently remarried. Callie liked her new stepfather and was truly happy for her mom, but she was aware of a sense of loss as her mother became immersed in her new life, which included much travel.
The shop's door opened as a plump woman in an ankle length cotton dress came in. "Is this your niece, Mel?" she asked, her face beaming. She turned to Callie. "I spotted the West Virginia license plate on the car out front. Delia Hamilton," she said, taking Callie's hand in both of hers. "Mel's been talking about nothing but your visit for days."
"Delia has the shop next door," Aunt Mel explained. "Collectible salt and pepper shakers."
"Shake-It-Up!" Delia said, naming her shop with a cheery grin. "Do come over when you have a minute."
"Are all the shops at Keepsake Cove one or another kind of collectible?" Callie asked. She remembered her aunt mentioning something about that in one of her emails, but it hadn't fully sunk in.
"Just about," Delia said. "This part of Mapleton is like a collector's mall, except not under one roof. We're a little town within a town."
"Keepsake Cove developed over time," Aunt Melodie further explained. "One or two collectible shops set up first and became hugely popular. That drew more businesses to the area. Before you knew it, just about every shop in the two-or-three block square had become a collectible shop of one kind or another.
"Except for the café," Delia added.
"Right. And the name Keepsake Cove simply evolved — because of the collectible shops, of course, and because of the little bay we back up to, turning the town into a destination."
"What I've seen so far is charming," Callie said, meaning it. "The storefronts look like something out of a Dickens novel."
"Wait 'till you see your aunt's cottage."
Aunt Melodie smiled. "It's not half as nice as yours, Delia. But I am rather proud of it." She glanced at the clock on the wall. "It's just about closing time, so why don't I finish up here and I'll take you over? Want to join us for dinner, Delia?"
"I wouldn't dream of barging in, Mel, but thank you. I hope you'll stop over tomorrow," Delia said warmly to Callie before taking her leave.
"She's a dear person," Aunt Melodie said, as the shop door closed behind her friend, "and a wonderful neighbor. Unlike ... well, we won't get into that now. Let me close up and we'll head out back. I've had a crock pot simmering most of the day, so dinner should be ready as soon as I toss a salad together."
As her aunt got busy behind her counter, Callie wandered about the shop, delighting in the variety and beauty of the music boxes she saw, until Aunt Mel turned the front door lock and flipped the closed sign. She led Callie to a small office at the back, where she stopped at an old desk that looked vaguely familiar.
"Remember this?" Aunt Mel asked. "It was Grandma Reeds."
Callie suddenly remembered the secretary desk, with its drop lid, sitting at one end of her grandparent's living room. She'd loved the many cubby holes, which, as a child, she'd thought were perfect for hiding secret messages.
"It's full of nicks and scratches, but it's the perfect size for this room. And I like being able to lock up a few things in it." To demonstrate, Aunt Mel logged out of her laptop and folded it up. Then she slid the compact computer to the back of the desk and lifted the dropped lid of the desk. She locked the lid with a ring of keys she'd retrieved from a lower drawer, then turned off the lights and led the way out the back door. There she stopped to let Callie take in the view of the cottage that stood about twenty steps away.
Callie saw a greenery-framed little house that whispered — no, cried — "English countryside," to her. All her favorite books sprang to life as she gazed at her aunt's red-painted cottage. A steep-pitched roof hugged a second floor dormer window with a flower-filled window box beneath. A large, multi-paned window sat to the right of a sage green door that was reached by passing under a white, rose-trimmed trellis. Varieties of blooming flowers edged the cottage foundation. All that was missing, Callie thought, was thatching on the roof. "Aunt Melodie, it's wonderful!"
Aunt Melodie smiled. "You should have seen the place when I bought it. A run-down disaster. It's been a loving work in progress for several years. I still have a project or two in mind. Come," she said, stepping onto the brick walk and leading the way, "I have something special to show you inside."
Callie followed, catching the sweet perfume of the roses as she passed beneath the trellis. The bland entrance to her apartment building back in Morgantown came to mind, dreary in comparison, but she brushed that thought away. She had two days to enjoy this fairyland before she needed to return.
Callie stepped through the door and into a blue and white living room as pretty as a piece of Staffordshire china. As she moved to the middle of the room and gazed around, something suddenly swooped down from the top of a bookcase and landed at her feet. Callie screeched and jumped back, falling into a cushioned rocking chair as a flash of gray zipped past her and into the kitchen.
"Jagger!" Aunt Mel scolded. "That wasn't nice! Are you okay, Callie?"
Callie stopped rocking and grinned. "I didn't know you had a cat."
"Jagger thinks it's the other way around. It's his dinner time. He assumes I need daily reminding."
Aunt Melodie followed her cat to the kitchen, and Callie pulled herself up to join them. Jagger sat next to an empty white bowl and blinked benignly at Callie, who saw no remorse in those round eyes for his attack-style greeting. Aunt Mel filled the cat's bowl and watched fondly as he dug in.
"I got him from a shelter," she said. "His previous owner was obviously a Mick Jagger fan. I kept the name when I saw how he strutted around the place like a rock star. Well, now we'll have a little peace for what I first intended to do." Aunt Mel waved Callie back to the living room and to a roll-top desk tucked in the corner. She unlocked the desk top and opened it, Aunt Melody turned to watch Callie's reaction. "Remember this?"
Callie gasped as she recognized the square music box that sat in the middle of the desk. Its polished wood gleamed, showing off a beautiful inlaid design on the lid.
"Grandpa Reed's music box!"
"It was his favorite. Yours too, when you were little."
"I remember him winding it up to play, over and over."
"And you'd waltz around the room —"
"My version of a waltz," Callie said, laughing. "I was pretending to skate."
"Of course you were!" Aunt Melodie said, smiling. "Since the tune is The Skater's Waltz." She lifted the lid, and the familiar music played as a figure of a miniature skater twirled inside.
"Come, skate with me ..." Callie sang softly along until the music finally wound down. She tilted the box, exposing the key beneath. "May I?" she asked. "Grandpa Reed never let me wind it myself."
"It was his favorite music box. He wouldn't let me touch it, either, until he judged I was old enough to be careful. His music box collection, after I inherited it, provided the start-up of my shop. But this one has never been for sale."
"I'm glad you held onto it."
"I was as fond of it as you were. I'll keep it safe, and it'll be yours next."
Callie gazed at the box, as happy to see and hear it again as she was to be with her aunt. Possessing the box for herself, she was sure, lay far in the future. For now, it was wonderful simply to know it was in good hands and treasured.
* * *
Callie woke the next morning, uncertain for the moment where she was. Then she saw the sun peeking through the muslin curtains at the dormer window as it brushed the taller blooms in the flower box below, and she smiled. Aunt Mel had insisted on giving up her room to Callie, claiming she had a little work to do in the guest bedroom that doubled as her home office.
Callie stretched and gazed around, taking in the pretty watercolors on the walls that echoed the greenery outdoors. Her puffy comforter fairly floated above her, adding to the airy lightness of the room. Aunt Mel's touch shone in every detail.
They had spent hours talking the evening before, closing the gap of years between them easily and making Callie wish she'd visited very much sooner. Maybe today she'd bring up her concerns about her future. Hank or no Hank, that was the question. Or part of it. But for now, she thought as she pulled herself up to a sitting position, coffee was the question.
A glance at the bedside clock told her it was seven-thirty, and Callie listened carefully for sounds that her aunt was awake. All was silent, so she eased out of bed and tip-toed to her door as she wrapped her robe around her. She was surprised, then, as she stepped into the hall, to see the door to the guest room open and the bed rumpled and empty. Aunt Mel must be up. However, after Callie trotted downstairs, she found the lower rooms unoccupied except for Jagger pacing near his empty bowl.
"Didn't get your breakfast?" Callie asked. She checked through the window, expecting to see her aunt in the garden, but all she saw were scampering squirrels and chickadees. She hesitated, but after Jagger began mewing and looking pointedly at his bowl, she found a box of cat food and shook some out for him. When he dug in, obviously hungry, Callie felt uneasy. Aunt Mel wasn't one to neglect feeding her pet. Callie hadn't spotted any note to explain a hasty departure, but she shrugged. Aunt Mel must have had a good reason to run out and most likely would be back in minutes.
Still wanting that coffee, Callie set up a pot to begin brewing, then went back upstairs to get dressed, listening with one ear the whole time for sounds of the front door opening and her aunt calling out cheerily. When that didn't happen by the time Callie returned to the kitchen, she began to feel anxious. But, she told herself, Aunt Mel could have simply gone in to her shop. Deciding that must be the explanation, Callie filled a mug and carried it with her out the door to head over there.
It was a beautiful morning, and Callie breathed in the fresh air tinged with rose perfume. She stepped carefully along the brick walkway that was wet with dew until she reached the back door of the shop. When she tried the knob, it turned easily, and Callie smiled with relief. She had guessed right. Her aunt must be inside.
"Aunt Mel?" Callie called as she entered the shop's office. It was dim, and she could see that the shop beyond was also dark, which seemed odd. "Aunt Mel?"
Callie froze as a feeling of dread washed over her. She tried to shake it off, telling herself she was being silly. Aunt Mel simply hadn't turned on the lights for whatever she'd come over to do. Still, Callie stayed in place, unwilling to go further. Why wasn't her aunt answering her?
She tried one more time. "Aunt Mel?" When all she got back was the ticking of a wall clock, she forced herself to move forward.
Callie first saw the pale hand, outstretched on the floor. Then the pushed-up sleeve of a blue robe. When she saw her aunt's face, eyes open and mouth slack, lying in a pool of dark red blood, Callie screamed.
She'd forgotten she was holding a mug of coffee until it went crashing to the floor.CHAPTER 2
Delia came running within moments at Callie's screams. White faced, she checked for signs of life in her friend, then hustled Callie out as she called 9-1-1.
"There's been a bad accident," Callie heard her say. A few more words of explanation, then a shaky, "No, I don't think so." Callie understood what that meant. Aunt Mel was dead. She sat numbly in the back of Delia's shop, motionless except for her shivers, and waited.
There were sirens, of course, followed by streams of countless people, both official and onlookers, then endless questions from all. Finally, after what seemed like hours, everyone around her seemed satisfied.
"Accident," they all concluded. It was all so overwhelming that Callie wasn't able to think, so she nodded automatically without really agreeing. Aunt Mel was dead. That was all she knew for sure.
Eventually things around her calmed. Delia's shop emptied, and she asked Callie if she'd like to stay with her that night. "I imagine you'll want to go home for a few days before the funeral."
Funeral! Callie hadn't even thought that far. "I don't know. Everything's been so ..."
Excerpted from A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes. Copyright © 2017 Mary Ellen Hughes. Excerpted by permission of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A FATAL COLLECTION will be a keepsake of mine for a very long time to come! I have said many times that readers can’t go wrong with a book from author Mary Ellen Hughes. She has once again proven me right. This first book in her Keepsake Cove Mystery series is a real winner! Many things made me want to read, A FATAL COLLECTION. The first of course is author Hughes. The second is the location of the series both real, and fictional. It takes place on the East Coast, in Maryland, close to the town of Ocean City, MD, where I have been visiting since I was a child. So I loved hearing familiar town names, and route numbers. These familiar places helped me to clearly picture the fictional town of Mapleton, MD, and Keepsake Cove. The idea of a “town” within a town is a wonderfully creative idea. And the shops of that town each being dedicated to a certain collectible is brilliant! It’s a place I would frequent most too often I’m sure. Many things kept me reading A FATAL COLLECTION. First, the characters. I felt an instant kinship to protagonist, Callie Reed, her Aunt Melodie, and the many eclectic store owners. I felt they were people I would surely have called friends. I would have loved to see the relationship between Callie and her aunt grow. Ms. Hughes, how could you kill Aunt Mel?! You broke my heart! (You’re already forgiven.) However, that does bring me to the second thing that kept me reading. I had to know who killed Aunt Mel, why they did it, and most of all, see them caught and punished! Yes, I took it quite personally. LOL As for the mystery, it was solid, and well plotted. There were enough suspects to caused me to spend time deliberating just who the murderer could be. In what I considered to be a major surprising turn of events, I was completely stunned when the killer was revealed! I was totally taken by surprise. Very clever. One thing I want to stress about A FATAL COLLECTION is, it’s what a cozy mystery should be in every way. So many authors are making cozies edgier. While I have enjoyed some of them, they aren’t what I want in a cozy. But this book, this is what I want when I read a cozy mystery. This story is what has made cozy mysteries my favorite genre. All of the things above, and so much more, have made A FATAL COLLECTION one of my favorite cozy mysteries of 2017.
A Fatal Collection is a new cozy mystery (hopefully) series, with a lot of likeable characters, some not so likeable characters, and a great location. Callie's life seems stuck in a rut. She's stuck in a relationship that is going nowhere, with a man who appears not to be willing to grow up, when she goes to visit her aunt at Keepsake Cove. The first morning when Callie wakes up, she finds her aunt dead in her music box store. The police determine that the death is an accident, but Callie is suspicious, wondering why her aunt would go into the shop, in the middle of the night, in her bathrobe. When Callie finds out her aunt left her shop and house to Callie she decides to stay and keep the shop open and try to find out what happened. I liked A Fatal Collection and the characters who live in Keepsake Cove and will keep my eye out for more books by this author. Her characters are well-written and the location and setting are different from other cozies I have read. There is a lot to learn about the characters in Keepsake Cove and I look forward to getting to know them. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. The review above contains my opinions and is freely shared.
Dollycas’s Thoughts This is an excellent start to what I hope will be a long-running series. The story takes place in Keepsake Cove on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Callie Reed’s Aunt Melodie owns a music box shop and a cute little cottage there. Callie arrives for a short visit that turns into so much more after her aunt suffers a tragic fall. Melodie’s death is ruled accidental, but something just seems off. Her aunt was healthy and vital. She knew the layout of her store even in the dark, and why was she there in the middle of the night? Driven by a music box that mysteriously plays without being wound and just a need to find the truth, Callie keeps her eyes and ears open, asks some careful questions, and tries to not end up joining her aunt in the great beyond, before she can truly be at home in Keepsake Cove. What an amazing setting for a story/series. Mary Ellen Hughes creates mind-blowing imagery with her words. Each shop and cottage, the paths between, the music boxes and other keepsakes, come alive through her words. She takes us there and immerses the reader in everything that is happening. The characters come alive too. They already have great depth. I feel we will get to know them even better as the series continues. I do wish Callie would have had more time with her aunt, but we know that she was a genuine and caring person with many friends that now will take Callie under their wing. All the shopkeepers are unique in personality and their wares. A tight-knit community, most working to continue to the cove’s success. You always have a few dust-ups, maybe even murder, in a place like this, that keep life interesting. The plot of the story is unique in that there are no police scurrying around trying to catch a killer. They believe it was a terrible accident. Callie does investigate quietly and has several suspects, but she keeps them to herself, until the exciting climax where all is revealed. I found this to be delightful and refreshing. As a collector myself you could take me away to Keepsake Cove any day of the week. This visit ended much too soon. They are still shops to explore and people to meet. You just know Callie’s going to get herself into something. I am excited about this series to continue. Mary Ellen, my virtual bags are packed and I am ready to escape to the cove whenever you are. Please don’t make me wait too long.
Wouldn’t you consider yourself lucky to inherit your aunt’s music box store and furnished cottage? The catch – your aunt dies. Callie Reed moves to the village her aunt has been living in for a long time and begins to enjoy her time. The happiness is cut short as Callie is determined to find out who murdered her aunt while getting to know her fellow merchants and their hidden agendas. Who did it? This was my first read by this author and it was quite interesting, easy to follow and developed characters. I hope to see more in this series in the future.
I was taken back to yesteryear and all the fun shops and quaint little towns that I visited in an around Colorado. I loved the quaint village of Keepsake. It did almost feel like a Hallmark town. The collection of shops and colorful characters sweep you in and make you want to stay. The story was fairly fast paced for me and an easy read. I couldn't help but feel sorry for Callie. Having her aunt die just as she comes to town. And then realizing that it was no accident. Callie finds the answers and is set up to be the new sleuth on the block at least in Keepsake Cove. A Fatal Collection is book 1 of a great new series. I am looking forward to more adventures in Keepsake. I received a complimentary copy from Great Escapes Tours.
a fantastic start to a new series A FATAL COLLECTION by Mary Ellen Hughes The First Keepsake Cove Mystery Needing some time away from her loser boyfriend, Callie Reed decides to spend some time visiting her favorite Aunt Melody in charming Keepsake Cove. Their visit abruptly ends when Callie finds her aunt dead in her music box shop, apparently having accidentally fallen during the night. When Callie learns she is Melody's only heir and now owns her shop and cottage, she decides to leave West Virginia for good and start a new life in the Maryland town catering to collectors. Yet, the more time passes, the more Callie questions her aunt's death. What was she doing in the store in the middle of the night? Was it really an accident? Or did it have something to do with her nasty neighbor? Or the controversy she started with the Keepsake Cove Association? And why is her grandfather's music box suddenly playing when no one has wound it up? I love the exposition found in the first book of a series, meeting the characters and exploring their world. Mary Ellen Hughes does not disappoint. We meet interesting well developed characters who exist in a charming town. Being a collector, though not of music boxes or salt and pepper shakers, I wish I could walk the streets and browse the stores of Keepsake Cove. Callie Reed is a smart protagonist who doesn't go about deliberately putting herself at risk, although she does find herself in danger. I enjoy the open ended possibilities we're left with at the end of the first Keepsake Cove mystery. There are lots of avenues to explore and three characters in particular I'm sure we haven't heard the last of! A FATAL COLLECTION is a fantastic start to a new series. There's a well plotted mystery and a hint of otherworldiness that makes this series debut a hit! FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a digital ARC provided through NetGalley, in the hopes I would review it.
A Killer Collection is the first book in the Keepsake Cove Mystery series. Another wonderful cozy series from Mary Ellen Hughes Callie knows that she owes her Aunt Melody a visit and with the break up with boyfriend, she feels that this is the perfect time for a visit. So she jumps in her car and heads for Keepsake Cove. Keepsake Cove is a quaint area of the little town of Mapleton on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and is home to numerous shops featuring various collectible items. Callie’s aunt’s shop is called House of Melody and has an interesting selection of music boxes both every day and a fine collection of collectible music boxes. The next morning when Callie wakes she goes in search of her aunt and notices that back door of the shop is ajar. She pensively enters the shop and soon finds the lifeless body of her aunt. The police, after finishing their investigation, rule the death an accident. But Callie and owner of the shop next door, Delia, don’t think that was the case. First, their was no reason for Aunt Melody to be in the shop in the middle of the night and they can’t believe a simple fall would be enough to cause her death. After talking with Delia and some of the other shop owners, Callie learns that the shop owner of the store next door, Karl Eggers, has wanted to buy her aunts shop, or at the very least to be able to put collectible toy cars in the shop for his nephew to run. Another suspect comes to light when Callie learns that Aunt Melody was going to ask their business association to consider having an outside auditing company come in and review the association accounting records and that the treasurer’s position should become an elected post. This did not sit well with some of the members and of course with Duane Fletcher, the current treasurer. With the help of Delia and Brian Greer, owner of the Keepsake Diner, sets off to find the murderer of her aunt This is another delightful cozy mystery from Mary Ellen Hughes. It provides the reader with an exciting story and a cast of interesting and believable characters. I will definitely be watching for next book in this very enjoyable series. With Callie having inherited House of Melody and the cozy little cottage behind I will be interested in seeing what her next adventure will be and am looking forward to learning more about the shop owner in Keepsake Cove. And who knows, Callie might even be able to find a love interest.
I love a good cozy mystery, and the start of a new series is something special indeed I don't qualify as a hoarder, but I am a pack rat, so collecting is kind of in my blood. So a new cozy series about collecting? Where do I sign up??? One thing I've learned about cozy mysteries is that is often (ok, all the time) ticks off the villains when someone tries to solve the mystery. Another thing I've learned about cozy heroines is that they have a talent for investigation, and therefore, of ticking off the villains. On top of that, the victim is Callie's aunt, so my advice to the culprit(s) would be to just go and turn yourself in, cause you're going down. But that would make for a very short book. That's why Mary Ellen Hughes writes the cozy mystery books and I enjoy them! *lol* I understand that it's tough to reconnect with lost or estranged relatives. We basically lost touch with my father's side of the family after his passing, and I've recently re-connected with a couple of cousins on Facebook. I regret the time it took (we're talking decades here), but am glad that is no longer an issue. So, if I were Callie and that opportunity for reconciliation was snatched away just as it was getting going? One aspect I really enjoy is that Callie got 'signs' in the investigation from her aunt's favorite music box! Coincidence? Maybe ... and maybe not. Anyway, these signs give Callie a sense of accomplishment in finding out what really happened to Aunt Melodie. Just having the box is also a comfort as it brings up the good memories of the departed as well. Keepsakes can have great emotional value and connection to an event or person. And some collectors are downright... obsessed! A Fatal Collection is downright enjoyable and holds great promise for the future.
A Fatal Collection by author Mary Ellen Hughes is a typical, and well-written, cozy mystery. We start with Callie's visit to Keepsake Cove, Maryland, to visit her aunt at her music box shop. After Aunt Melodie's untimely death, Callie must work to unravel the mystery behind it, as she doesn't believe it was an accident. Nice first entry into a series (Keepsake Cove Mystery Series), the story kept me guessing, and I enjoyed the location of the fictional town (which I'd love to visit!) and meeting it's residents. I'm looking forward to reading future installments by Ms. Hughes, and will check out her other books. A+
When problems crop up in Callie Reed's personal life, she decides to take a long overdue trip to Keepsake Cove in Maryland to visit her Aunt Melodie. But the visit soon turns tragic when Callie finds her aunt's dead body the next morning, the apparent victim of an accidental trip and fall. Callie is further surprised to learn that her aunt has made her the sole beneficiary of her estate, including her cottage and the adjacent shop, House of Music. Callie quickly decides to sever ties with her former life, including her now ex-boyfriend, Hank, and settle into the picturesque Keepsake Cove. Learning the ins and outs of the music box retail business and its customers, as well as meeting the town's sometimes unique residents, keeps Callie busy but there is still a nagging suspicion that her aunt's death wasn't an accident, a idea hinted at by the occasional unexplained music coming from her aunt's favorite music box. This was a great start to the first book in a new series. The main characters are quirky and interesting and I enjoyed the relationships Callie was beginning to develop with them. I loved the descriptions of the various shops and shop owners. There were several suspects and motives floated, although I have to admit I "sussed" to the identity and motive earlier than the reveal. That said, this did not take away anything from the plot and Callie's learning of the truth. I can't wait to read the next book in this series. Disclosure: I am voluntarily reviewing this advance reading copy received through NetGalley.
Truly enjoyed this book and would differently encourage anyone who likes fast paced mysteries to read this.
A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes is the first book in A Keepsake Cove Mystery series. Callie Reed is visiting her Aunt Melodie in Keepsake Cove, Maryland. Melodie owns House of Melody, a music box shop and lives in an adorable red cottage behind the shop. The next morning, Callie goes looking for Melodie and finds her dead in the shop. The police rule it an accidental death, but Callie is not so sure. After the funeral, Callie discovers that she inherited the shop and cottage. It is the perfect time for a change, and Callie embraces her new life. When Callie goes through her aunt’s belongings, she finds a second disposable cell phone. Why did Melodie need a second phone? Then someone tries to break into the shop. What are they after and why is Grandpa Reed’s music box playing on its own? Questions are piling up and Callie wants answers. A Fatal Collection is nicely written, great main character, and it had a nice pace. I enjoyed the descriptions of the various collectible shops in Keepsake Cove (unique town). Mary Ellen Hughes created some good characters in a quaint tourist town. I wish, though, that she had developed the main character a little more. We are not given enough background on Callie. I am hopeful the author will rectify it in the next book. Readers are introduced to many of the shop owners. I did tire of the numerous clothing descriptions of Callie’s part-time employee (she has an unusual clothing style). The investigation is minimal and the killer easily identified. I wish Ms. Hughes had made the mystery more enticing. I felt the flirting and romance between Callie and Brian Greer inappropriate since Callie has just left her husband (I could have done with less of him too). I did enjoy the paranormal element and I hope there will be more of it in future books in A Keepsake Cover Mystery series (with a better explanation). A Fatal Collection is a cute start to the series. With a few tweaks, it could be a delightful cozy mystery series.