15 Minutes of Flame
Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery #3
By Christin Brecher
Author’s website: christinbrecher.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
As Stella Wright’s Nantucket candle store thrives, her knack for solving mysteries burns equally bright–especially when a Halloween haunted house uncovers evidence of a centuries-old murder . . .
When Stella’s friend inherits a creaky, abandoned home in Nantucket, she knows it’s the perfect setting for the town’s annual Halloween fundraiser. A deserted, boarded-up building on the property–once used as a candle-making shop–adds to the creepy ambiance. But as Stella explores the shack’s dilapidated walls, she discovers a terrible secret: the skeleton of a Quaker woman, wrapped in blood-soaked clothing and hidden deep within a stone hearth . . .
While police investigate, Stella wastes no time asking for help from friends with long ties to Nantucket’s intricate history. The key to the murder may lie within a scorching 18th century love triangle that pit two best friends against one another over a dubious man. But before the case is solved, another life will be claimed–leaving Stella to wonder who in Nantucket is friend, and who is foe . . . (From Goodreads)
15 Minutes of Flame is the best in this series so far. Our favorite characters return, and we meet some interesting professionals in this combination cold case and new case cozy mystery. I enjoy historical mysteries, and this novel has the best of the past and the present to draw from. Many people enjoy cozies with a Halloween setting, and we get to see the preparation of a home that had been empty for years being dressed up as a haunted house. The characters could step out of the pages into Nantucket Island life.
Stella is the proud owner of Wick & Flame, her specialty candle store. Stella has a fine-honed sense of smell and can dissect combinations of scents to get to the basic ingredients. This skill enables her to prepare candles in many scents, even custom design them for clients. Hers is a store I would love to see, this exciting scent-sational shop filled with gorgeous colors and fascinating shapes. We spend only a brief time in Wicks & Flame this time, yet candles contribute to the ambiance of the story.
Stella’s friend John Pierre recently inherited the home that the Girls Scouts will hold the Halloween Haunts fundraiser in. It had not been lived in for many years and has a creepy old house feel. In back is what they call “The Shack”, what the scout troop leader said was probably once a smokehouse. As it wasn’t considered safe, they chained it shut to keep scouts and visitors to the haunted house out. When Stella went to the property to help one morning, the Shack was open, so she went to see why.
This little building was fascinating! As she looked around, Stella saw a sign for “Cooper’s Candles”, took a picture, and sent it to the owner. It appears the building was a 19th century candle shop. He texted back that she could take the sign home with her. When she pried it off the wall, the stones in the wall began to pop out as if releasing pressure. Peter, Stella’s boyfriend and reporter for the newspaper on Nantucket Island, arrived, and they were stunned to see an opening in the wall. It was the perfect spot to hide a body. A 19th century body, or technically, remains.
Later, it is learned that the remains are probably that of a Quaker woman named Patience, who was murdered. Through old journals and descendants of people who lived on the island, they learn of the location of the remains of another woman. One of the members of the researching anthropological team is murdered while looking for the remains. Stella can only worry about what she unleashed from simply walking into the Shack and finding the candle shop sign.
The characters are very likable and well-defined. I enjoyed seeing Stella, Peter, Stella’s friends and family members again, as her family has long-time roots on the island. Stella has courage and a sense of adventure that I wish I did! I enjoyed seeing Stella’s cousins Ted and Docker again, and meeting Old Holly. I hope we see this old curmudgeon in the future!
The historical background in this novel was intriguing. It added a new depth to the mystery, especially as we learned more about the island, how candle making was a huge part of its economy, and the roles of women in the 19th century. Having the mystery begin from the past and be related to the present made it most challenging and enjoyable, as did the Halloween preparation. The mysteries were not easily solved; the end is full of surprises! I highly recommend this cozy mystery where past and present come together with fascinating results.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*