Thursday, March 31, 2016

Here Comes the Bribe (A Bed and Breakfast Mystery #30)

Author:  Mary Daheim
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Paperback (LP); Ebook; Audiobook
ISBN #:  9780062318292; 9780062393043
William Morrow Publishing
304 Pages
$17.99; $21.93; $11.99 Amazon
April 5, 2016
Five Stars

Rodney Schmuck and his wife, Millie, Hillside Manor's latest guests, seem normal, well, except for that last name.  Innkeeper Judith McGonigle Flynn is touched to hear that the fortysomething couple is in town to visit family.  Rodney is especially eager to see his long-lost mother - who he insists is Judith.  Shocked to meet an alleged son she's sure she never had, she can't believe Rodney when he swears he has proof from a Norway General Hospital birth certificate listing Judith Anne Grover as his mother.

The father's name is Unknown.

Judith has never heard of Rodney, let alone given him life.  But she's got a bigger problem when one of the B&B guests turns up dead in the backyard.  To Judith's surprise, Joe is willing to help investigate.  He can't ignore a potential homicide that hits so close to home.

But Rodney is seeking compensation for Judith's so-called abandonment of him.  Perhaps she'll sign over Hillside Manor?  Fat chance of that, Judith declares, and wonders what kind of scheme Rodney has on his devious mind.  For that matter, she also wonders why the rest of the guests in his party are acting so strangely.  With Joe hot on the killer's trail, Cousin Renie is persuaded to help Judith discover the truth about the Schmucks and their mysterious hangers-on.  If they don't act fast, Hillside Manor could end up as Schmucks' Gold Mine.


Judith McGonigle Flynn is having a full house at her B&B.  She has an entire wedding party occupying the premises.  When the group shows up, one man - Rodney Schmuck - insists to Judith that he's her long-lost son, even though Judith knows she only has one child - and Rodney's not it.  He shows up and insists he has proof she's his mother, although Judith's never seen it, and the man won't stop calling her Mama.  The rest of the group is an odd assortment as well, but before they can truly make her crazy, one of the members, Rodney's wife Millie, is found dead one morning in the backyard out by the birdbath.  After being told Millie died of natural causes, Judith is relieved - right up until the point where she is informed that there is a suspicious substance that has been found around Millie's mouth, and it appears she may have been poisoned.

But who is the killer?  Which of the nutcases who are occupying her home - Rodney Schmuck and his daughter Bella (the bride); Clark Stone (the groom) and his parents Cynthia and Stuart Wicks; The Reverend George Kindred and his wife Elsie; Charles and Agnes Crump; and Dr. Sophie Kilmore and her husband Clayton Ormsby - could have a motive to want Millie dead?

Judith knows it could be any one of them, and with the reluctant help of her ever-present cousin Renie, wants to find out who killed Millie and why.  And even though Judith's husband Joe begs her to stay out of the investigation, Renie has no such hopes, and again follows Judith into yet another murder investigation.

With Millie's death, everyone knows the wedding will have to be postponed, but it appears to Judith that the preparations weren't really all that solvent in the first place.  And she soon discovers that all is not what it seems.  Her house guests may have more to them than meets the eye.  When they disappear from the B&B one night when Judith and Joe are sleeping, she wants to find out where they've gone.  And when she does find out that Millie was worth millions, and owned a home not too far from the B&B, she begins to wonder what they were doing there in the first place - besides trying to buy up everyone's property.  And it becomes clear to her that maybe a marriage wasn't their goal in the first place...

I absolutely loved this book.  You would think that after writing this series for so long, it would become tired and trite.  But Ms. Daheim is able to keep her characters alive and breathing, and inflects true personalities into them that is both fun and refreshing.  The banter between Judith and Renie can only be described as love-hate; Judith's dry wit and Renie's sarcasm feed off each other and the insults roll between them although both of them know nothing is meant by it.  Their poor long-suffering husbands, Joe and Bill, respectively, know what their wives are like and don't seem to expect miracles at this late date in the game.

There are also some conversations between Joe and Judith's mother Gert, who lives behind the B&B in a converted toolshed, that are hilarious.  Neither one can stand each other, and it shows.  Judith tends to ignore their conversations - which probably is a good idea.

When the book reaches a climax, and All is Revealed, it is wrapped up in a nice little package that leaves one as relieved as Judith must feel.  While not as involved as previous mysteries in this series, nevertheless it is a satisfying enough ending to make me look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.

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