Something Buried, Something Blue
Lily Dale Mystery #2
By Wendy Corsi Staub
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub is back with the second in her critically-acclaimed cozy mystery series.
After agreeing to stay in Lily Dale through the winter as caretakers of the Valley View Guesthouse and its feline residents, widowed mom Bella Jordan and her son Max are looking forward to the peaceful off-season after a hectic summer. That is until the medium next door, Odelia Lauder, recruits Bella to host a destination wedding for the world’s most petulant bride, Johneen Maynard, a friend of Odelia’s granddaughter.
Things take an even more stressful turn as the wedding day looms amidst an October blizzard, when suddenly the Spirits start giving Odelia a major heads up that the bride might be fated for death. And when the prediction comes true just as the storm begins to break, Bella finds herself trapped in a house full of murder suspects.
It’s a race to figure out who killed Johneen–and what clever murder weapon made it appear to be natural causes–before the killer catches on in Something Buried, Something Blue. (From Goodreads)
Wow, what a great read! This is the second novel in the Lily Dale Mystery series, and I am hooked on it. The characters in Lily Dale are uniquely gifted, whether or not they have “the gift”. Anyone who wishes to own property in the Dale must have one of the psychic gifts.
Valley View Guesthouse had been owned by Leona Gatto, who was murdered just before Bella and Max come to town.. Bella, a young widow and recently laid off teacher, and her adorable 5-year old son Max were traveling from New York to Chicago. Her mother-in-law is not warm and fuzzy, but she is the only they have, and the only place they could go when her landlord sold the building they lived in. Enter Chance the Cat, who had stopped in the road ahead of Bella’s car, forcing her into events that lead her to managing the Guesthouse for Leona’s heir and nephew, Grant.
It is now time to close up for the season, as Lily Dale gets very few visitors once the snow flies. Odelia, the next door neighbor, delightfully tells Bella that she has a wedding party who wants to book the Guesthouse for a weekend in October. The bride is a close friend of her granddaughter, Calla; Johneen and her husband-to-be, Parker, want a quiet, out of the way place for a cozy wedding. The Guesthouse isn’t exactly a luxury resort, but the bride and groom will be satisfied with a few modifications.
After much cleaning and preparation, the day the wedding party is expected is here. Odelia and another psychic medium, Pandora, share ominous predictions that the wedding should not occur but aren’t clear of the explanations for what the women visualize. After several balmy days that feel more like September, the day of the wedding has a dire prediction of rain, then snow and sleet. When the first knock on the door is heard, Bella opens it to find…her mother-in-law? With a steamer trunk! And no room in the, guesthouse. Odelia offers Millicent a room until the wedding party leaves, even though Bella would rather her mother-in-law leave.
Bella tries to accommodate Johneen, a wealthy heiress, as best as she can. Members of the wedding party are a diverse group who Johneen went to college or works with. Then as sometimes happens in the Dale, odd things take place. Things appearing in Bella’s locked room or disappearing, only to reappear later. Pictures of the wedding party on her phone are completely cleared off. One of the guests has a gun between her mattress and box spring. Just before the ceremony, Johneen is dizzy, but has had little to eat. As the rain is about to fall, the bride does. Unconscious, barely breathing. Rushed to the hospital with her groom close behind.
If I were to go to Lily Dale, I would almost expect to see Bella, her boy Max, and others working in their gardens or playing with friends, so well-rounded they are. Even the reticent Drew, the veterinarian, comes to life more in this novel as he comes to Bella’s aid. The visitors to the wedding, and Millicent, are seen through Bella’s eyes. Max has a friend to play with so we don’t see him as much as in the earlier book. I like Bella. Her insecurities are, if one were to be honest, universal to many women, but her heart for doing the right thing, and loving Max, are among her finer qualities. Getting to know Millicent this time was enlightening, and seeing her love for Max is heartwarming.
Woven into the plot is sufficient humor, including how Millicent, in all seriousness, said she came to rescue Bella and Max away from the “cult” in the Dale. There are many lines of wisdom, also, from Bella and those around her. The plot twists keep coming, at times bringing spine-tingling actions and at times, chilling to the marrow of one’s bones. Being trapped in a snow and sleet storm with power and phone lines down, with these interesting guests, not knowing who the killer might be, is the kind of nightmare that would make Dame Agatha proud. I had an idea who “might be” the bad guy(s), and could take only brief “aha!” moments when seeing who it was – as the next moment brought more chills – and not just from the snow! I highly recommend this cozy mystery to those who enjoy very well-written novels with very likable characters (and cats), chilling twists, humor, and possibly even some romance.