Date: April 2003
it at Amazon
Notes: Reviewer Kristin Johnson is the author of Butterfly
Wings: A Love Story, Christmas Cookies Are For Giving.
Bones and Stately Homes
A Tori Miracle Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery
book with recipes? This is a new twist on the "cozy mystery"
sub-genre. The idea of small, respectable towns having deadly secrets
is not new, nor is the plucky ex-New York journalist uncovering
buried scandals---darn those meddling kids! In this case, darn small-town
paper reporter Tori Miracle, who uncovers a literal skeleton in
the closet while she's assigned to write about the (fictional) town
of Lickin Creek's stately homes for the June house tour. Tori's
best friend tests the bonds of friendship by convincing Tori, who's
been responsible for the death of a beloved senator, among other
mishaps, to keep quiet about the mysterious skeleton until after
the house tour is over.
no bones about it: The skeleton is to Tori and the town of Lickin
Creek what the Elephant Man's bones were to Michael Jackson. Speaking
of Jacko, the skeleton in the closet, one half of a local Romeo-and-Juliet
legend, resembles the Gloved One more than a lovelorn bridegroom.
The community pillars of Lickin Creek who want to preserve the legend
don't appreciate Tori poking into their business.
attempts on her life, an ex-con minister obsessed with showing her
how easily someone could get to her, a great red-herring escaped
convict, and a murdered druggist complicate Tori's quest. Add a
conveniently-thwarted romance with the local AWOL sheriff and an
elderly Paul Newman-type courting Tori, as well as a minor subplot
involving her father taken hostage in the Middle East, and Tori's
quest to purchase her dream home, which mysteriously gets tripped
up by the banker whose aunt owned the house with the skeleton. At
times, the mystery feels as overstuffed as the trunk inside which
Tori eventually discovers a missing bride, The Juliet-meets-"Sliver"
of the local star-crossed couple.
book, meandering through an eccentric, likable cast of characters,
is not for readers who like trim, fast-paced mysteries of the James
Patterson kind. The pace of the plot slows in places, but the setting's
quirks and Tori's talent for trouble spice up the tale. Several
Lickin Creek recipes complete the cozy, homey atmosphere.