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A Finder’s Fee
A Missing Pieces Mystery #5
Joyce and Jim Lavene

Berkley Prime Crime
October 2013/ ISBN 978-0-425-25231-4


Reviewed by Laura Hinds

In the small town of Duck, North Carolina, Dae O’Donnell is not only the current mayor, and proprietor of the curiosity shop, Missing Pieces, she’s also a gifted finder. This means she can touch objects and find their history, or touch people who have lost something and then find it for them.

This is the fifth book in the Missing Pieces mystery series, and with each book, Dae’s talents grow stronger. Dae’s father sent her an amber necklace, an antique he’d found, and it turns out the necklace brings Dae into up-close-and-personal contact with the spirit of Maggie Madison, a long (as in centuries) dead serving wench. Maggie inhabits Dae, and insists that her bones be dug up and buried with her lover’s remains.

Poor Dae, when Maggie pops up at will and throws herself at every man in sight, it’s hard to keep her presence secret. This is especially problematic after Dae accidentally discovers a dead man’s bones in a buried racecar. The man, Lightning Joe was murdered 40 years ago and most of the suspects are former police deputies. When Dae’s mayoral opponent, Mad Dog Wilson is taken into custody for the murder, Dae knows she has to find the true killer. Not only for the sake of justice for Joe, but to keep her own political career from going down the tubes when people think she set this up to get Mad Dog out of contention for becoming the next mayor.

This is such an interesting book; I really couldn’t put it down. The series gets better and better. I’ve grown to feel right at home in Duck, and as though I know Dae and the other regular townies in person. The mystery is clever; I never would have guessed the outcome. The setting is perfect for a present day mystery, as well as one from the distant past and one from ancient Duck history.

The Lavene team has done it again: they’ve produced a first-class cozy with a strong element of the paranormal and made every single word believable. While you can never go wrong with a Joyce and Jim Lavene book, I super-extra recommend “A Finder’s Fee,” and while not necessary to read these in order, I do think the series is best enjoyed if you get all five books and read them chronologically. They’d be perfect for a nice long snowy weekend escape from a storm, curled up by a fireplace with a nice cup of cocoa.

Reviewed 2013