Thursday, August 4, 2016

Kilt at the Highland Games (A Liss MacCrimmon Mystery Book 9)

Author:  Kaitlyn Dunnett
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Ebook; Audio CD
ISBN #: 9780758292919
Kensington Publishing
304 Pages
$19.07; $11.99; $22.19 Amazon
July 26, 2016

Five Stars



It's July in Moosetookalook, Maine, and Scottish Emporium proprietress Liss MacCrimmon Ruskin is prepping her wares for the annual Celtic heritage festival.  But as a sinister crime wave washes over the quiet town, this year's celebration might prove a wee bit more eventful -- and deadly -- than tartans and bagpipes...

When a fire ravages the local bookstore late one evening, Liss immediately fears the worst for owner Angie Hogencamp and the two young children who live above the shop.  After the terrible blaze dies down, however, the family is nowhere to be found among the ruins.  It's as if the three just vanished into smoke.  Or even stranger -- like they never existed at all.

Disturbed by Angie's disappearance and suspecting arson, Liss counts on the weekend-long Western Maine Highland Games -- complete with a parade and fireworks display -- to offer a temporary distraction from the countless questions filling her head.  But when the sound of a gunshot leads Liss to selectman Jason Graye's dead body on opening day, she's drawn into a full-blown homicide investigation like a moth to a flame.

Is Moosetookalook suffering from a streak of bad luck, or are the two grim incidents connected?  Unable to shake the notion that new victims are being targeted around town -- and despite her worried husband's best protests -- Liss races to nab the killer.  And with her own life on the line, she'll need to act swifly.  Because when it comes to this kind of game, somebody has to lose...

********

Arson, murder, vandalism...Moosetookalook is having an unusual crime wave this summer...

Liss MacCrimmon and her husband Dan are sleeping one night when they are awakened by a siren in the middle of the night and the smell of smoke.  Running to the window, she sees that it is the bookstore across the square, the one owned by her friend Angie Hogencamp.  Once the fire is extinguished and it is determined that Angie and her children, Beth and Bradley, were not in the building when it went up in flames, it leaves another question:  where are they?

Their car is also missing, yet when Liss questions anyone nearby Angie's home/bookstore, it seems none of them remember her leaving, nor has she been seen since at least the day before the fire.  Once it's pretty well decided that the fire was arson, Liss is more than ever determined to find Angie, refusing to believe that she would torch her own business for any reason.

But she also has other things on her mind:  Jason Graye, a local real estate agent/selectman, wants to use eminent domain to take (what's left of) Angie's property for the town, and is also determined to shut down the local library.  The local librarian is resolved to see him removed from the board, and is enlisting Liss's help; a tourist is making her miserable by questioning the authenticity of her shop's wares and running off customers; and her young cousin Boxer is worried about Angie's daughter Beth, who is also his girlfriend.  

But things start to get really ugly when Jason is found dead in his home - by Liss and Dan no less - and there's an act of vandalism that, on the surface, appears to be random and the act of bored kids.  But it isn't long before she starts getting suspicious that these things might be linked and calls in her own private investigator to see if he can locate Angie, believing she's the key to all that's been happening.  But it's a final act of violence that sets Liss off in the right direction; but putting it all together may put more than her life in danger....

I truly enjoyed this book, it is an easy read and a clever one.  There are enough twists and turns to please even the most die hard cozy mystery fans, and suffice it to say that All is Not What it Seems.  The most innocuous conversations can have hidden meanings, hidden secrets turn out to be both good and bad, and sometimes even people we thought we knew turn out to be someone else entirely.

The characters are well-defined and believable; there is a mashup of people who are interesting, humorous, and, in one case, downright intimidating.  Ms. Dunnett creates a town that we all might not want to live in (being a Big City girl myself), but we would probably want to visit at least once in our lifetime.  This was a truly delightful read, and I was sorry to see it end.

This is the ninth book in the Liss MacCrimmon mysteries, but it can be read as a stand alone, there is enough information given throughout the book so that you don't feel like you've missed something by not reading the others.  When we finally come to the end of the book, we realize that sometimes what doesn't seem like evil can be anywhere around us, and we get the satisfaction of having finished a very good book indeed.  Highly recommended.



More on Kaitlyn Dunnett's books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/d/kaitlyn-dunnett/                                     . 

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