“Well-paced suspense spiced with wry wit.” Boston Sunday Herald on Closely Akin to Murder
“Clever…irreverent murder and mayhem.” Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate on Closely Akin to Murder
“Wickedly amusing.” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine on Busy Bodies
“Delightful…worthy of Hercule Poirot in the classic Death on the Nile.” Publishers Weekly on Mummy Dearest
“A good substitute for a trip to Egypt.” Deadly Pleasures on Mummy Dearest
“Hess fans will find much to entertain them...” Publishers Weekly on Damsels in Distress
“Lively, sharp, irreverent.” The New York Times Book Review on Poisoned Pins
“Larcenous shenanigans…breezy throughout.” Chicago Tribune on Poisoned Pins
“With her wry asides, Claire makes a most engaging narrator. The author deftly juggles the various plot strands…the surprising denouement comes off with éclat.” Publishers Weekly on Out on a Limb
“A winning blend of soft-core feminism, trendy subplots, and a completely irreverent style that characterizes both the series and the sleuth.” Houston Chronicle on the Claire Malloy Mysteries
“A wildly entertaining series.” Mystery Scene on the Claire Malloy Mysteries
“Fresh and funny…her trademark humor is stamped on every page.” Publishers Weekly, on The Goodbye Body
“Breezy and delightful…Claire Malloy is one of the most engaging narrators in mystery.” The Drood Review
At the start of Hess’s snappy, sassy 18th Clare Malloy mystery (after 2008’s Mummy Dearest), Claire, who’s just returned from “a decidedly adventurous honeymoon in Egypt” with her new husband, deputy police chief Peter Rosen, realizes that her small apartment in central Farberville, Ark., isn’t big enough for her, Peter, and her 17-year-old daughter, Caron. On the outskirts of town, Clare discovers a roomy 19th-century house on a large lot that she immediately falls in love with. The abrupt disappearance of the real estate agent showing the house heralds a host of complications. The house’s late owner, Winston Martinson, died under mysterious circumstances, and now current owner Terry Kennedy, Winston’s dotty gay lover, has his doubts about selling. Terry eventually offers Clare a lease, but he suffers a fatal collapse before the deal can go through. A cast of eccentric supporting characters, including nursery owner Ethan Hollow and his hippie wife, Pandora Butterfly Saraswati, add local color. Agent: Dominick Abel. (Feb.)
Real-estate problems escalate into murder when newly married Claire Malloy (Mummy Dearest) stumbles into a dangerous housing market. This long-running series never loses steam.
Finding her dream house turns into a nightmare for Arkansas bookseller Claire Malloy (Damsels in Distress, 2007, etc.). Now that she and hunky deputy police chief Peter Rosen are back from their honeymoon in Egypt, Claire's two-bedroom apartment seems a mite small to house both the happy couple and Claire's daughter Caron. So rather than forcing the moody 17-year-old to move in with her bookish best friend Inez, Claire leaves the Book Depot in the hands of her earnest young clerk and goes off with real estate agent Angela Delmond to plow through Farberville's meager housing stock. Just as Claire finds a beautiful restored Victorian backing onto a meadow, Angela disappears, stranding her client in her dream house. Worse yet, as she tries to complete the deal sans realtor, Claire finds the title to the house shrouded in conflict. Before his fatal plunge into the creek, Winston Hollow left it to his gay lover, Terry Kennedy. Naturally, the Hollow clan is disputing the will. Although his wife, flaky Pandora Butterfly Saraswati, couldn't care less about material possessions, organic farmer Ethan Hollow sees Winston's property as the Hollows' birthright. Righteous Charles Finnelly, related by marriage to Ethan's cousin Felicia, is less concerned with legacy than with losing the land to a godless pervert. Gentle Nattie is torn. She wants the family estate to stay intact but would love a neighbor like Claire to relieve the tedium of caring for her demented Uncle Moses. But it won't be enough to win over the Hollows; in order to buy the house, Claire will need to solve a string of murders. In spite of Claire's sardonic wit and the Hollows' zaniness, Hess' latest is all too predictable, bringing sad truth to Claire's constant refrain: "if this were a mystery novel...".