The Uninvited Corpse
Food Blogger Mysteries #1
By Debra Sennefelder
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Leaving behind a failed career as a magazine editor and an embarrassing stint on a reality baking show, newly divorced lifestyle entrepreneur Hope Early thought things were finally on the upswing—until she comes face-to-face with a murderer . . .
Hope’s schedule is already jam packed with recipe testing and shameless plugs for her food blog as she rushes off to attend a spring garden tour in the charming town of Jefferson, Connecticut. Unfortunately, it isn’t the perfectly arranged potted plants that grab her attention—it’s the bloody body of reviled real estate agent Peaches McCoy . . .
One of the tour guests committed murder, and all eyes are on Hope’s older sister, Claire Dixon—who, at best, saw Peaches as a professional rival. And suspicions really heat up when another murder occurs the following night. Now, with two messy murders shaking Jefferson and all evidence pointing to Claire, Hope must set aside her burgeoning brand to prove her sister’s innocence. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer intent on making sure her life goes permanently out of style . . .
Includes Recipes from Hope’s Kitchen! (From Goodreads)
This is a fast-paced, very enjoyable start to a new series. The characters are likable and realistic, with dialog and actions defining them well. The plot is fresh and interesting. While I am not a cook or even particularly well-organized any more, the life of a blogger is interesting, and the recipes sound amazing. The mystery has a twist – well, more than one – and I liked seeing Hope try to find the real bad guy to keep her sister out of an unflattering shade of orange.
Hope and her sister Claire, a Realtor, attend a garden tour and book signing of one of the most elegant homes of the Jefferson Garden Club. Audrey, who inherited the home from her grandmother, has a one-acre garden that is not as gorgeous as it would be in summer. She is signing copies of her latest home gardener table book. Hope, who tries to efficiently organize every space she is in, even if a visitor, is helping in the kitchen. Claire is at the tour as Hope’s guest, and wasn’t on the invitation list. Another uninvited guest arrived, this one by herself. Peaches McCoy, is a very aggressive Realtor from the same office that Claire works in. Peaches gets the plum listings, and is rumored willing to go to any length to get those listings. She is not a popular guest, and disappears after getting an autographed copy of Audrey’s book. Hope, while cleaning up, and her close friend and newspaper reporter Drew go into what they find is the study of Audrey’s husband Harrison. After picking up dirty glasses and seeing a stack of folders spilled from the desk to the floor, Hope also sees Peaches, the uninvited guest, dead on the floor, and it looks as if she has been clobbered and is dead.
Claire, who is Peaches’ biggest rival in the realty office, is the suspect. Jane,who had been a mystery author forty years ago and led the library’s mystery book group, wants Hope to get involved. After all, Hope had the most success in the group when it came to solving the mysteries in the novels they read.
Hope has many priorities, however, as she is working hard on her blog, remodeling her beautiful older home, and living down the popularity she once had as a successful magazine editor, then on a reality TV show where she learned the reality of that TV world. When the former producer of the show finds out there is a murder in her small town, he wants to start a new reality series about watching Hope solve the crime. At least until he started a new series about following a divorced man starting out new on the dating scene, dishing out any dirt on his ex, and hopefully falling in love again. That divorced man could only be…Tim, Hope’s ex-husband. Who has time to look for a killer? If she wants to keep Claire out of prison, Hope has to make the time…especially when someone close to Hope is the next victim. Ethan, Hope’s close friend and Jefferson Chief of Police, frowns on her intent to do so.
I enjoyed meeting Hope, Claire, Ethan, and the garden club members. Hope is my favorite, of course, and I wish she could come to my home for a week or two and work her expertise. There is mixture of those who are hard-working, others who are wealthy, and some who would run over another to get their way (or sales, or men). Most are engaging folks I hope to see more of in the future.
One of the thing that appealed to me, and I appreciated reading, was the career change to being a blogger. I knew that it would take much work to make a living at it. Hope has the determination, fabulous ideas, and good old grit that it takes to do it. Not to mention creativity with new recipes, appealing photos, and household management tips appreciated by readers of any age. Hope is an excellent communicator, except when asking people about how they liked Peaches and various aspects of her life. When Hope finds the second murder victim, it seems beyond belief, as that person had no enemies. I could not figure out who the bad guy or gal might be until the person is revealed, which is the way I like it. I was so wrapped up in the story that I gave up trying to figure it out when realizing I chased red herrings! The ending held surprises in more than one aspect. I highly recommend The Uninvited Corpse – great start for this new series!