A Fright to the Death
A family Fortune Mystery #3
By Dawn Eastman
Author’s Website: dawneastman.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Former cop Clyde Fortune, who—snowbound with her kooky family in a creepy castle—is climbing the walls and combing the halls, looking for a cold-blooded killer…
After their flight to Mexico is cancelled, Clyde and her detective boyfriend, Mac, end up snowed in with their families at a supposedly haunted hotel. Clyde’s tarot card reading mother, Rose, is making dire predictions for the weekend, and self-proclaimed pet psychic Aunt Vi is enchanted by the legend of the hotel’s ghost—until the power goes out and a body turns up.
With a hotel full of stranded suspects, Clyde will have to draw on all her skills—both the police ones she’d rather forget and the psychic ones she’d rather ignore—to solve the bone-chilling mystery before someone else gets iced… (Goodreads)
Clyde and her boyfriend Mac are getting to know one another again after years apart due to an unfortunate misunderstanding and breakup. The story opens with them driving to the airport in deteriorating weather conditions when they are notified that their flight to Mexico has been canceled. Worried that they will not be able to make it all the way back home and not wanting to give up on their vacation all together, they stop at the Carlisle Castle in hopes of finding a room for the night. Unfortunately, the inn is booked full due to a yarn workshop. What a surprise when they find Clyde’s mother and aunt and Mac’s mother in residence. After they rearrange room assignments to accommodate the pair, regrettably for them they are not placed in the same room, they settle in for dinner at the inn. The storm causes the electricity and phones to fail, and in the ensuing commotion one of the proprietors Clarissa is found dead in her bathroom. Since they are unable to reach the police, Mac and Clyde, who are both lawmen, take charge of the scene and begin investigating. They discover that almost all of the guests and many of the staff had reason to want Clarissa out of the picture. Through good old fashioned deductive reasoning and a little psychic help, the murderer is eventually revealed.
One word about this book – FUN! The snowed in conditions in an old “haunted” house plays homage to the golden age of mystery and its closed room murder scenario. There are even secret staircases and hidden tunnels to add to the hijinx. Clyde and Mac are likeable characters, and their relationship is realistic. I appreciate that Mac is trying to come to terms with Clyde’s premonitions and tough sensitivity (her psychic abilities were partly responsible for their breakup years before). I like that Clyde does not have all of the answers regarding her own life but is working through things to make it better and happy. Her family is zany and provides plenty of chuckles. Her father in particular, who I think is underrated, is great in his long suffering role as straight man to his psychic wife and sister-in-law. Clyde’s nephew Seth is convincingly portrayed, not merely an obnoxious teen nor too mature for his age, and I love his rapport with the dogs. My favorite moment of the story is the image of Baxter, the giant mastiff, riding on the back of a snow mobile…easily imagined and too funny. Even Baxter plays a part in solving the mystery.
Ms. Eastman’s style is charming and lends itself to easy reading. I found it hard to put the book down for want of knowing what crazy antics would happen next. Despite the lighter side, the mystery itself was well paced and thought out. There were plenty of viable suspects with legitimate, varied motivations. The addition of other illegal activities made it all the more interesting.
I have enjoyed this entire series to date, and A Fright to the Death was no exception. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Mac and Clyde’s relationship and Clyde’s family. I recommend this delightful cozy to fans of the genre and those who appreciate a touch of paranormal with their mystery.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*