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One Hot Murder
Victoria Square Mystery #3
Lorraine Bartlett

Berkley Prime Crime
Feb 2013/ 978-0-425-25190-4

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

There are days when Katie Bonner regrets taking over as manager of Artisan Alley in Victoria Square. This is one of those days, only worse. There’s been a fire at Wood U, and a murder victim found inside. Things are hot in the square due to a protracted heat wave and tempers are flaring. Because she is the head of the Merchant’s Association, it’s up to Katie to try to cool the hotheads off.

Dennis Wheeler, the owner of Wood U, is probably the victim, but there has been no formal identification made. There are newcomers to the square as well. The Webster mansion, recently sold to a couple of men who plan to restore it and transform it into an inn, suffers a break-in, and the men are nervous about the possibility that the fire at Wood U was arson. Despite the fact that they are about to embark on Katie’s dream with their plans for the inn, Katie wants to see them succeed.

Here is what we know so far: the Wood U had a fire and had a body inside. Katie’s having issues with her vendors in Artisan Alley, and issues with the merchants in the Association. The person who died at Wood U may or may not have been the owner. Katie feels it is up to her to solve all of this, yet she’s getting nowhere fast.

While I’ve enjoyed both of the previous books in this series, and gave a positive review to The Walled Flower, I wasn’t as impressed with “One Hot Murder.” The pace was slow, almost plodding, and with the identity of the victim uncertain for so long, I found that I didn’t care who was dead or who had killed the victim. The protagonist, Katie, seemed unable to resolve her own problems let alone uncover a killer. If you are a die-hard fan of the series, please, buy a copy and read it. There’s a chance you may read it and, with a different pair of eyes, you might find a better story.

Reviews of other titles in this series

The Walled Flower #2
One Hot Murder #3
Dead, Bath and Beyond #4

Yule Be Dead #5

Reviewed 2013