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Sentenced to Death: A Booktown Mystery

Sentenced to Death: A Booktown Mystery

By: Lorna Barrett
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 2011
ISBN: 978-0425241868
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: June 8, 2011

It was Founder’s Day Weekend in Stoneham, New Hampshire and the only thing buzzing, aside from the ever present gossip, was a small plane overhead. Deborah Black, owner of the “Happy Domestic” with her husband David, was the “architect of the celebration” and was poised to give her speech in the center gazebo. Meanwhile, the gossip was flowing as Tricia Miles held Deb’s son Davey’s hand and tried to ditch Russ Smith, her one time lover. Tricia was the owner of one of the ten book stores in town, “Haven’t Got a Clue,” and the only mystery to her was why some people didn’t get the hint they weren’t wanted. Russ was the editor of the “Stoneham Weekly News” and unbeknownst to him was going to get more than just a little blurb on a small town celebration. No sooner had Elizabeth Crane retrieved her grandson from Tricia, when everyone saw the “small aircraft plummeting to Earth.”

The screams began as the plane crashed into the gazebo and a sense of disbelief washed over the residents of Stoneham. Ginny Wilson, one of Tricia’s employees looked at the carnage and exclaimed, “I just can’t believe it.” It wasn’t all that long ago that Jim Roth, along with his store, “History Repeats Itself,” was “blown to smithereens.” Tricia was totally shocked at this turn of events because Deborah was one of her first friends when she came to Stoneham. Tricia’s sister, Angelica, decided to be an insensitive clod and declared, “And what a way to go, squashed like a bug.” After a sincere apology, Tricia began to think about Deborah’s appalling death. Monty Capshaw, the pilot, might have encountered a problem, but seriously “what kind of idiot of a pilot lets his plan run out of gas?” Things were starting to brew again in Stoneham and this time it wasn’t at the Coffee Bean.

Captain Grant Baker, Mr. “I wouldn’t be at liberty to say,” wasn’t spilling the beans to Tricia about the “accident,” but it was easy to see that things weren’t on the up and up with David Black. Practically before his wife’s corpse was cold he’d accepted an offer from Nigela Racita Associates for the “Happy Domestic.” The dirt in the small village of Stoneham was surfacing faster that a spade could turn it and Tricia was becoming mighty suspicious about the plane crash. Was it really an accident? She decided to ask some of her own questions and the easiest way was to start a trust fund for Davey and do the collecting herself. Tricia was in for a surprise when Alexa Kozlov claimed that Deborah “was not our favorite person.” Huh? Things began to be a bit more threatening, but she didn’t think much about it until Angelica warned her, “With all the bodies you’ve found in this town, I’d think you’d be a little more concerned.” When another corpse showed up Tricia had to rethink her strategy. “I’m sorry to ask, but we’d like you to come inside and make an identification . . .”

Stoneham, New Hampshire’s “village jinx,” Tricia Miles, is poised to solve yet another mystery. One thing about the Booktown Mysteries series is you never know what is going to happen next or who is going to meet their maker in an unusually bizarre fashion. I do have to admit I love a good whodunit that keeps me burning the midnight oil, but am equally fond of a good solid mystery that I can look forward to savoring, one chapter at a time. Sentenced to Death just happens to be one of those. Stoneham, a town fans of the Booktown series have fallen in love with, is a town that has residents pushing up daisies, dandelions, dahlias, and delphiniums in a devilishly delightful manner. It looks like we’ll be seeing more of Tricia Miles in yet another upcoming mystery!

Quill says: Just when you think nothing more can go wrong in Stoneham, there always manages to be a few more characters that are “crazy-nutso-bananas” making their appearance on the scene.

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