Jessie Schroeder continues to hope she will find peace and quiet living in the small town of Riverport, high on the bluffs of the Mississippi River, but she is thwarted again. This time the body came with a Biblical passage skewered to his chest in The Ayes Have It, the third book in the Jessie Schroeder Mystery Series.
The award-winning children's author has been trying to avoid murder and mayhem by concentrating on her civic duty as a member of the Library Board and co-chair of the library bond issue campaign. Alas, the fates are once again against her. A representative of an organization calling itself GOCLAP (Guarding Our Children from the Lewd and Pornographic) starts picketing the library. He claims Jessie's Newberry Honor children's book, The Sunburnt Ghost, in her popular Emily Says series, should be banned.
Jessie knows she should mind her own business this time (only four months previous, her involvement in a murder case nearly cost her life in book two), but then things go from bad to worse. First the picketer is found dead, then a powerful fellow member of the Library Board decides to oppose the bond issue election, and Jessie discovers he had a long-term relationship with the dead picketer. The gossip in town about the continued relationship between Jessie and Riverport's Sheriff Gil Keller is pushed aside by the buzz about the first murder and then a second. Warnings and pleas not to become involved go unheeded, and Jessie is once again in the middle.
Jessie operates in classic cozy mystery style in this genre first popularized by Agatha Christie. Loosely the elements of the cozy genre are that the protagonist is an amateur sleuth, usually female, the murder is often done off stage, and the sex scenes tend to be inferred rather than described in detail. The settings are flexible from country to small town to a sprawling metropolis.
The cozy genre continues to grow in popularity as readers increasingly want to have their murder mysteries solved cerebrally rather than by brute force. That is not to say that the female detective is not often in life-threatening situations. The long-running television series, Murder, She Wrote, introduced thousands to the genre.
Two of my favorite contemporary cozy authors are Gillian Roberts and Rosemary Harris. Roberts writes The Amanda Pepper Series. Amanda Pepper is a Philadelphia high school English teacher. There are 14 books in the series. Harris writes the A Dirty Business Series featuring Paula Holliday who owns a gardening business. Roberts and I both have short stories featured in the anthology Untreed Detectives.
The two previous books headlining Jessie Schroeder are The Best Laid Plans which uncovers unsavory business in Riverport's small town government and Thicker Than Water which has arson, a multi-million inheritance, and good old-fashioned religion. The fourth book underway in the series is A Change of Scene, in which Jessie ventures out of the Midwest into New Mexico to teach a workshop at a summer art institute and finds murder again.
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