Cancelled by Murder
A Postmistress Mystery, Book #2
By Jean Flowers
Author Website: minichino.com
With a massive storm about to hit North Ashcot, Massachusetts, threatening floods and widespread wind damage, Cassie is forced to close up the post office along with the rest of the local business owners and residents, who are battening down the hatches and bracing themselves for the worst.
Although the storm proves not to be as bad as predicted, fabric shop owner Daisy Harmon is found dead, seemingly killed by a fallen branch. But the police quickly determine that her death had nothing to do with foul weather and everything to do with foul play. After Daisy’s widowed husband approaches her to help solve his wife’s murder, Cassie vows to find the killer before another innocent victim is taken by storm.
When the delightful Postmistress Mystery series came out, it was a ‘must read’ for me. In Cancelled by Murder I even learned about a stamp and it’s pictured Revolutionary War hero that I had to look up to remember. I started collecting stamps a long time ago, yet I never thought that anything more exciting occurred in a post office than a new stamp arrival. It was fascinating to consider how they sorted all those envelopes and packages and got them to the right place…not just in my small hometown but all around the country.
Cancelled by Murder is second in the Postmistress Mystery series, and it can be read as a standalone. Cassie had returned to her hometown to care for her terminally ill Aunt Tess and has remained in North Ashcot. She is the postmistress and only staff person in this one-woman shop, except for the retired postmaster, Ben, who enjoys coming in to help and see his former customers. Her BFF is the chief of police chief, Sunni, who has helped her get started in quilting.
An almost white-out snowstorm comes in with fury, and most of the town closed up early to get home before the weather worsens. She sees her friend Daisy from the fabric store struggling to bring in the displays outside the front door, but nobody else. It would seem that she is the last person to see Daisy alive – other than her killer. Daisy’s neighbor, a bike shop employee heard noises from the yard behind her shop, but could not get there to help before she died, originally thought to be killed by a fallen tree limb. The news quickly circulated that she had been murdered. Her devastated widower, Cliff, wants Cassie to help him find who did it. Doing so could damage her friendship with Sunni, as she doesn’t want citizens risking their lives when the police force is trained and equipped to do so.
At least two of the quilting group ladies have motive for murder, both regarding business matters, and another just plain acts suspiciously. When Cassie begins to ask questions of the ladies of their quilting group, however, each one feels like a suspect and Cassie begins to lose friends. Finding a way to help Cliff without alienating anyone else becomes even more difficult when it seemed like every time she and Cliff met, the chief of police either saw them together or noticed his car at her home. Sleuthing often isn’t the way it’s shown on TV!
The author has designed unique and (mostly) delightful characters. Cassie is the one we get to know best, and we continue to learn more about BFF’s Sunni in North Ashcot and Linda in Boston. They are completely believable and three-dimensional. Quinn, the man Cassie is dating, is present mostly by Skype or text thru much of the novel; we are learning more about him. Ben is also believable, especially as he tries to find a way to be useful and keep up with his old friends and customers. The ladies in the quilting group are interesting; most are helpful. All are quite intelligent, and quick to forgive when they understand how Cassie is simply trying to help find their friend Daisy’s killer. The retired couple who come in to weigh the sweet little animals that they foster are admirable; I enjoy their visits as seen through Cassie’s eyes.
I really liked this story! The author teases the reader with plot twists, realistic spats between the quilters, and the small town politics that Daisy took a very vocal exception to. While I thought I knew who the killer was, I was wrong, partially. I had discarded this person from my armchair sleuth suspect list (sigh). The conclusion of the novel was satisfying and all loose ends were tied up. This series, and Cancelled by Murder are worthy reads; I highly recommend this novel to those who have a fascination with the post office workings and well-written cozy mysteries.