Clause and Effect
Deadly Edits, Book #2
By Kaitlyn Dunnett
Author Website: kaitlyndunnett(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
As a professional editor, Mikki Lincoln is used to crimes against the English language. As an amateur sleuth, she’s finding catching criminals a lot more dangerous than catching
typos . . .
Nestled in the picturesque Catskills, the village of Lenape Hollow prepares to celebrate the 225th anniversary of its founding. Freelance book editor Mikki Lincoln has been drafted to update and correct the script, left over from the town’s bicentennial, which is housed at the historical society.
The building is being renovated for the first time since that last celebration. But when construction reveals a shocking discovery—human remains walled up in a fireplace—Mikki shifts focus from cold-reading to solving a cold case.
Just as her investigation seems to have hit a brick wall, a new murder rattles the townspeople. Clearly, someone is hiding a few skeletons in the closet. Now Mikki will need to go off script to make a connection between the bicentennial bones and the current homicide. But if this book editor isn’t careful, she may be the next one sentenced to death . . . (Goodreads)
I very much enjoyed this second in the Deadly Edits series! Clause and Effect is the first novel I have read by this author, and it won’t be the last! The characters and mystery are drawn with excellence. As I am one of those people who is challenged when seeing numerous grammar errors in a novel, I appreciate the work Mikki does – even though I will never know nearly as much as she does!
Mikki, a retired junior high English teacher, returned to her hometown of Lenape Hollow, NY after her husband passed away. The home she grew up in was for sale and she is now the proud owner. To pay for repairs needed, Mikki opened her own editing business. She is excellent at what she does, so much so that two women on the board of the Historical Society approach her to edit the script used and performed twenty-five years ago at Lenape Hollow’s bicentennial. Darlene, Mikki’s best friend from high school, and Ronnie, her least favorite person from high school, serve on the board together. Ronnie wanted Darlene to talk Mikki into doing the work, taunting her that if Darlene’s older sister Judy were there, she would have already gotten a commitment from Mikki.
Mikki has several paying business commitments, so she only plans to look at the script. She is willing to proofread and edit the script. One of many little challenges, however, is that it was typewritten before the days of computers being readily available. Another is that the only copy is in the Historical Society’s archives, therefore unavailable to take home to work on. Gilbert Baxter, the current director of the Historical Society, won’t allow the script to be copied as he feels it would damage the original.
Mikki takes her laptop to the Historical Society, planning to re-type the script as she edits it. She is there on a day that the building is closed to the public while remodeling is done. This will be more than a simple proofread and edit job, or even re-typing. It is a narrative rather than driven by conversations, rendering it completely boring for a viewer, and it is not historically accurate. While she reads it, a wall in the work area collapsed. Charlie, the man working in the area, was not injured, and claims to be working alone. Mikki sees what looks like a second body under the wallboard. It has been quite some time since that body has been alive, though, as it appears to be mummified, wrapped in heavy plastic and secured by duct tape.
Shirley, the society’s librarian, thinks the last time that wall was open was 25 years earlier, just before the bicentennial. Records showed that the wall was put in to cover over the fireplace that was in the area. Since the building is now a crime scene, closed, for at least a couple of days, she gives the script to Mikki to take home and work on. What the director doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
Mikki, Darlene, and Ronnie work together to get the script re-written. Mikki tries to learn who was around the society at the time that the body, only identified currently as a young woman, would have been stuffed in the wall. Mikki, putting together what she learns, to help the police determine who the woman was. Who killed her, though? Mikki had helped find the bad guy who killed one of her clients after she returned to town, and her curiosity is definitely whetted by this cold case.
Mikki is very well defined through conversations, thoughts, and actions; other characters are as well as necessary for their roles. We learn about some people a little at a time as the past is investigated. One mystery is why Judy, Darlene’s older sister, has been estranged from her for several years. Their age and personality differences never brought them closer, but Mikki can’t get the story from Darlene or Judy. I like Mikki best, in part for her intelligence, ability to juggle her business and the play that will be presented at the celebration, her love of cats, and yes, even her maturity. I also like her best friend Darlene and how even after many years apart resume their friendship. These multifaceted women demonstrate that being retired, and in Darlene’s case partially disabled and retired, does not take away from one’s ability to contribute to the world around them. And Ronnie? Well, she is still the quintessential high school bully who grew to an adult meanie.
Surprisingly, there are several possible suspects in the young woman’s murder. Mikki finds creative ways to ask questions about people and circumstances, and shares her findings with Jonathan, the young, handsome police detective who wasn’t excited about her opinions in the past. I did figure out who the killer had to be not long before Mikki did – and if the person didn’t hesitate to silence a young woman twenty-five years earlier, would s/he be ready to kill an older woman today…This exciting mystery has a satisfying ending, leaving no loose ends. I highly recommend it!