Title: Chapter & Hearse
Author: Lorna Barrett
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, 2010
Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Mystery, #4 Booktown Mystery
Source: Paperback Swap
First Line: The poster on the Cookery's display window had advertised the book signing for at least a month.
Tricia Miles's sister is embarking on a book signing tour for her just-published cookbook when a gas explosion demolishes Stoneham's history bookshop, killing the owner and injuring Bob Kelly, head of the Chamber of Commerce and Angelica's boyfriend. Tricia's never been all that fond of Bob, but when she finds out that he's keeping a very low profile after the tragedy, she knows it's time to do something.
This series continues to get better and better. No longer weighted down by the Wicked Witch of Stoneham, Sheriff Wendy, other characters have become strong and sassy. Tricia's sister, Angelica, has mellowed and isn't the parasite she was at the beginning. And even a dog lover like me can like Tricia's cat, Miss Marple, because she's just a cat. She doesn't talk, she doesn't spell help in the mashed potatoes, she doesn't cough up hairballs, and she doesn't twine around ankles to trip people up.
Tricia is stronger and no longer the complete doormat she was in the first two books. This is a series that can easily become a reading staple-- just like that favorite pair of jeans or that faded sweatshirt-- because the characters are known, loved, and constantly evolving.
Characters that feel like friends combined with interesting plots? The perfect way to spend an afternoon for just as long as Ms. Barrett wants to continue this series.