Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lethal in Old Lace (A Consignment Shop Mystery)

Author:  Duffy Brown
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781683315353
Crooked Lane Books
304 Pages
$26.99; $10.69 Amazon
March 13, 2018


There are two social functions in Savannah guaranteed to get people talking: weddings and funerals.  And just as consignment shop owner Reagan Summerside agrees to marry the hunky Walker Boone, her neighbors, sisters Annie Fritz and Elsie Abbot, step up their business as professional mourners.  They are so successful that the Sleepy Pines Retirement Center has hired them as a part of their retirement package.  But the celebration over good business is cut short when the residents at Pines suddenly begin dying at an alarming rate.  And the sisters are the first suspects.

Reagan has her doubts, however, and begins to look into the strange phenomenon.  But then something even stranger happens: a body winds up in the sisters' pink Caddy.  The evidence begins to pile up and the suspicious case of Willie Fishbine, who swindled the sisters out of a fortune and coincidentally died prior to the Pines case, is reopened.

Not wanting Willie to be buried until they can find the killer responsible for the murders, Reagan must catch the culprit in time to walk down the aisle.


When Reagan Summerside is blindsided by a proposal of marriage from attorney Walker Boone - the same attorney who took her to the cleaners in her divorce - she thinks she's the happiest woman on earth.  And she is - for a few minutes or so.  At least until she sees a dead body in her neighbors' Caddy.  A dead body that suddenly isn't there, and neither is the car.  But when she heads back home to her old Victorian that doubles not only as her living quarters but her consignment shop the Prissy Fox, she sees the same her front window with her mannequin.

Now alarmed, by the time she convinces her Aunt Kiki to come look, the body has once again disappeared.  But it's not just a case of the roving body that has her up in arms, it's the fact that she knows her neighbors, the elderly Annie Fritz and Elsie are involved.  While she doesn't believe for a minute that they've murdered anyone, it's become a case of who is the old woman and where is she? for Reagan.

However, things are never that easy for her, and this is another time that proves it to be true.  Because she also has another problem - due to her aunt's sweet tooth, she now has to find out who murdered a young teen's grandfather, and she only has three days to prove it.  Even though the coroner labeled it natural causes she's suspicious.  So suddenly Reagan has to figure out the problem with the deceased Bonnie Sue (the Caddy lady), Willie Fishbine (the grandfather) why Dexter Thomas is hanging around her sleazy ex-husband Hollis, her Aunt Kiki going undercover in a funeral home, Walker trying to renovate her home, people managing to unexpectedly become part of her wedding party, and her mother doing her best to plan it all.  Just another day in the life of Reagan Summerside, Disaster Area...

I have to say that this book is one of the funniest I've read in a long time.  There is so much going on, and the author pulls you in from the first page.  How Reagan finds herself in these situations is beyond me, but I sure am glad I'm not her best friend.  I'd never get any rest.

While Reagan still can't believe that Boone wants to marry her, she knows she has to help her elderly friends before they're railroaded for something they didn't do.  But finding out who killed Bonnie Sue and dumped her body in the Caddy isn't going to be an easy task, especially when the more she digs, the more it becomes apparent that there are all sorts of people who might have wanted her gone.  Except the two men who were keeping company with her and are now willing to fight a duel to see who gets to give her eulogy...

See what I mean?  Humor throughout.  Who knew Savannah could be such a hotbed for frisky seniors?  Ms. Brown writes with a mean pen in this series.  She keeps you laughing (even though murder isn't at all funny) and the Case of the Traveling Casket is hilarious indeed.

Reagan is a delightful woman; she's funny (without meaning to be), generous, caring, loving, and thoughtful.  Sadly, she's prone to unfortunate situations as well.  Boone is a hunky male specimen.  All the rest of the characters have depth and are way past the point of quirkiness.  Closer to insane is what I'd say.  But in a good way.  I think.  No, I'm sure of it.  These are people that have a tight bond with each other, in good times and in bad.  People that will do anything for each other (and it shows).

The book is a nice blend of hijinks and mystery, never losing the fact that there's a murderer on the loose, and Reagan would rather find them sooner than later.  It is the process of this, however, that makes the book so good and gives it a unique essence.

When all is said and done and the murderer is revealed, I can say that I was surprised.  There were plenty of red herrings throughout, and it was lots of fun trying to discover the truth, but the ending was indeed worth it all.  I eagerly look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.


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