Death by Jack-O’-Lantern
Abby McCree Mystery #2
By Alexis Morgan
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
The small town of Snowberry Creek, Washington, is gearing up for the Halloween Festival, and naturally Abby is on the planning committee. As part of her duties, she’s picking up a pumpkin order from ornery farmer Ronald Minter. But what she finds instead is the farmer in the middle of his corn maze with a knife in his back.
The police suspect a homeless veteran named Kevin Montgomery, who was seen arguing with Minter when the farmer accused him of trespassing and stealing pumpkins. Abby’s tenant Tripp Blackston, a veteran himself who’s been helping Kevin, is sure he’s innocent. Together, Abby and Tripp follow the twists and turns of the case to corner the corn maze killer–before someone else meets a dead end…. (Goodreads)
Abby McCree did not only inherit her aunt’s estate, but her committee obligations, too. In Death by Jack-O’-Lantern, the impressive second book in its series, she finds herself overcommitted with the addition of the Halloween Festival and a Veterans’ fundraiser in the works to her calender. When a cranky pumpkin farmer meets an untimely end in his own corn maze and a local homeless vet is named the prime suspect, Abby’s tenant and friend Tripp finds himself in a pickle while proclaiming Kevin’s innocence. Abby puts on her sleuthing cap to find the real killer.
I really like this series, and author Alexis Morgan has no sophomore slump here with Death by Jack-O’-Lantern. The pace is good and the writing engaging. The mystery is solid with plenty of misdirection to keep readers guessing until the very end. I confess that I was blown away by the final reveal and did not see it coming. The author handles veterans’ post deployment issues with a thoughtful, deft hand. Abby goes about her investigating in a logical, reasonable way never falling into the “too stupid to live” category even when she faces life threatening danger.
Abby is a delightful protagonist with a big heart. Even though she did not choose her now committee filled life, she is well suited for it, ever helpful and well organized. I enjoy her dog sidekick Zeke, and he is prominently featured. Also of note is Abby’s relationship with the local police chief. So many cozies put their protagonists at odds with the law, but Abby and Gage share a refreshingly genuine friendship and open communication. All of the recurring characters are well drawn and varied. From the enjoyable gaggle of Abby’s aunt’s elderly friends to other town residents, they are easy to get to know while still having plenty of room to grow. My favorite character is Tripp. He remains somewhat of an enigma but is slowly sharing more with Abby. I look forward to seeing how his character grows and their relationship evolves.
Death by Jack-O’-Lantern is an entertaining read, perfect for the festive fall and Halloween season. Highly recommended.