Murder Makes Scents
Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery #2
By Christin Brecher
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Stella Wright loves creating candles at her Nantucket store—and she also has a burning passion for justice. Now, after visiting a perfume conference, she must solve a vial crime . . .
Stella and her globe-trotting mom, Millie, have come home from a perfume industry conference in Paris, where their trip was marred by witnessing the stabbing death of a young man. It’s a relief for Stella to be back on her picturesque island, with the comforting company of her cat, Tinker. But lingering danger may have followed them back across the ocean.
After someone breaks into her candle store, the Wick & Flame, Stella starts feeling spooked. And just as things threaten to ignite, Millie suffers a blow to the head. Stella receives an anonymous note claiming that her mother smuggled a secret formula out of France—and threatening her life if it isn’t returned. Now Stella’s picked up the scent of a cold-hearted criminal and an intriguing puzzle, and things are about to get wicked . . . (From Goodreads)
I truly enjoyed this fast-paced second offering in Christen Brecher’s new series! Imagining Stella Wright’s shop, her mother, boyfriend, and other friends is making this a new favorite place to visit. The author does a wonderful job of describing Nantucket Island, the hotel of the perfume conference in Paris, and of course, Stella’s candle shop!
Stella’s dream store, a unique candle shop where she designs specialty scents, has been growing in popularity with the islanders and tourists alike. Since she grew up, her mother Millie has traveled the world, seeking the finest scents from which to design her perfumes. For a special treat, Millie takes Stella to a world perfumery conference in Paris. The city is preparing for the upcoming Peace Jubilee.
Stella is going to present recent scent finds from the Amazon at the conference hotel before they leave. While Stella is taking video on her phone, a disturbance catches attention in reception area. Someone cries “murder”, and a man crawls out of the crowd with a knife in his back. He and Stella briefly made eye contact, but he said nothing before he died. Not the sendoff they were hoping for.
Later that day, they are on their way to Nantucket where Millie will visit for a few days. On the ferry to Nantucket, Millie ran into a man she hadn’t seen since high school. Now a widower, Nathaniel and Millie talk the entire ride while Stella goes to another level to look at news reports about the dead man in Paris. He had been a US government agent sent to transfer documents with French agents related to the Peace Jubilee. His killer, international anarchist Rex Laruam, is still on the loose and is being sought by officials. Fortunately, the documents were transferred successfully and on the way to Morocco.
Peter, Stella’s boyfriend, is meeting her and Millie at the ferry. Tinker, her beloved cat, is going to be a shop kitty while her mother is in town, as Millie is terrified of cats. That evening, they are going to have a small party, with Nathaniel and a couple surprise visitors joining them. One is Olive, the British teacher they met in Paris who is on sabbatical that Millie invited to join them any time. The other is Lennie, a school friend of Nathaniel. Both men are staying at the same hotel as they are there for a reunion/ birthday party for another classmate. Stella also learns that her cousin and his wife have opened a room as an Airbnb for extra income, and the first guests are there, a couple from Canada.
It isn’t long before Stella finds out that the crimes in Paris have followed her to Nantucket. Not only did someone slip a vial of secret scents into Millie’s special carrying case, but the anarchist and killer, Laruam, is searching for it. Millie and Nathaniel are in the hospital with concussions after a freak incident, and Millie’s memory has holes in it. A note appears on Stella’s door. If she doesn’t get the special vial, her mother will be killed.
I really enjoyed seeing Stella, her friends and family, and boyfriend Peter again. As a cat lady, I’m also happy to see Tinker and his help on the case! Each of the characters are developed so well, I felt as if I were part of the family gatherings. There was just enough information about the suspects that each could be questionable regarding whether they were bad guys/ gals or simply normal visitors.
This riveting tale, even better than the first, can be read as a standalone or as part of the series. There were times I cringed when seeing the risks Stella was willing to take, until considering her mother’s life was on the line as well as the safety of her family and loved ones in the community. There were several good suspects, and I can appreciate how hard it was for Stella to work through them – especially when she couldn’t tell anyone what was going on! I was somewhat surprised at who the real killer / anarchist was, and sad, as I had become somewhat invested in the person. Overall, I am very happy with this novel and the outcome; I highly recommend it!