A recipe for success: Claudia Bishop and her Hemlock Falls Inn mystery series.
While town residents are preparing to celebrate the 133rd anniversary of the Battle of Hemlock Falls, the Quilliam sisters are investigating the deaths of three people who all had their last meals at the Inn.
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This small-town cozy comes with two squabbling sisters, one a gourmand cook, the other an established painter. They collide in a little upstate New York town called Hemlock Falls. Aptly named. Together the sisters Sarah, called Quill, and Meg, own and operate an inn on a perfect plot of property overlooking the namesake falls. The novel comes with a list of the huge number of characters at the front and an unremarkable recipe at the back. The 133rd anniversary of a minor Civil War skirmish is approaching and the town is planning big doings. Things get rapidly complicated. Re-enactors are arriving to stage the battle, a poisonous couple of independent film-makers appear, and Quill, who cannot manage a business to save her soul, is trying out various practices on the Inn's employees she is picking up from a business course at Cornell. Cornell ought to sue. Then people start dying. They are old and not exactly in the best of health, but they weren't at death's door, either. The one thing they had in common was the Inn. All three victims had had meals at the Inn on the same day. The town doctor, who's in love with Meg, the aforementioned sister, is mightily distressed. He asks Meg's sister, Quill, to investigate. This of course adds to the number of subjects over which the two sisters can disagree. As one might imagine, there's a great amount of shouting, stomping about and door slamming. Quill, of course, agrees to look into the deaths, if only to protect the reputation of the Inn and her sister. It isn't like she hasn't enough to occupy her. She has to deal with a twit of a receptionist who's trying to finish a PhD and her own inept efforts to force worrisome new business practices on her employees without any preparation. All of this is handled with a light touch and there are several clever scenes, helped by some imaginative and interesting characters, but it all never quite comes off. The sisters' constant squabbling, the irritating front office receptionist who should have been fired for insubordination, and half a dozen other offenses, overshadow some strong writing and clever plotting.
Everyone is getting ready for the 133rd anniversary of the Battle of Hemlock Falls. Quill is getting the Inn ready, but her sister, Meg, is more concerned about her fiancé, Dr. Andy Bishop. Recently three people died at the hospital. He was their physician. All three were sick, but what brought them to the hospital should not have killed them. Meg is quite concerned about Andy and how he is taking all of this. Then it is discovered that all three dined at the Inn before going to the hospital. Quill interviews the families of the three dead people to try to determine what each person ate, who they interacted with, and what they did while they were at the Inn. She is trying to keep the fact that they dined at the Inn before dying away from her sister Meg. She knows she would not take this news well. There is also controversy about who really won the Battle of Hemlock Falls. This puts the town in turmoil. The Chamber of Commerce, of which Quill is the secretary, tries to iron things out with the reenactors. The many characters that live in Hemlock Falls are so well constructed. I feel as if I know each one. I enjoy the books in this series and always look forward to reading the next book. Quill always finds a way to get herself in the middle of the murder investigations. She often finds herself in danger, and many times brings her sister or a friend along with her. Hemlock Falls is the type of town you¿d like to vacation in and the Inn at Hemlock Falls is a place you¿d want to stay, except for all the murders! Even so, I¿d vacation there in a heartbeat if I could. I highly recommend this book.