Murder, She Edited
Deadly Edits #4
By Kaitlyn Dunnett
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
As the hesitant new owner of a rundown property outside of sleepy Lenape Hollow, New York, freelance editor Mikki Lincoln must get her facts straight about an old murder on the premises–before the killer returns to meet the next deadline!
When Mikki inherits a nearby farm from a woman she hasn’t seen in two decades, the unexpected arrangement comes with a big catch: forgotten diaries hidden in the neglected house must be recovered, edited, and published across the internet within one month. The lonely locale is like an untouched time capsule from the 1950s, and it was left behind for good reason
While searching for the mysterious memoirs and clues about the former owners, Mikki discovers that the once peaceful place was punctuated by an unsolved homicide and other rumored crimes. Worse, suspicious activity in the creepy, dilapidated barn suggests it really hasn’t been abandoned at all…
In a remote farmhouse with only her observant calico cat, Calpurnia, keeping her company, Mikki must swiftly crack an eerie cold case from the past and stop a clever culprit from leaving red markups on anything other than pages of revised copy… (from Goodreads)
I am so happy to have found this series, as each mystery is better than the one prior! I especially enjoyed this one, due to a bit of history, searching a home that was a 1950’s time capsule, and a cold case. Mikki, a retired teacher who does freelance editing for authors, has always been fascinated by puzzles. Since returning to her hometown of Lenape Hollow, NY after losing her husband and retiring, she has helped solve a few murder cases. The concerns this time were a conundrum, but she persevered even when it meant possibly putting herself in danger. Mikki is 71 and a likeable, intelligent woman in great health.
Mikki is notified of a surprising inheritance. Tessa, a childhood friend of her late mother, recently passed away at the age of 102. It had been decades since Mikki had seen her, so she was stunned to learn she inherited the farm. There are unusual conditions that she must meet first. Tessa’s will said that within 30 days of notification, Mikki would need to find, transcribe, and edit diaries in the home. Within two more weeks, she needs to publish them on certain specified web sites so the truth would come out.
There were a few little things that the approximately 80-year-old attorney failed to tell Mikki. He took her to the property to walk through the farmhouse and advised that nobody had lived in the home since Rosanna, stepmother to Tessa and her sister Estelle, passed away in the 1950’s. A cleaning service had kept the inside of the home somewhat spic-and-span, and a security company kept tabs on the exterior. Leland, the attorney, didn’t tell her where to find the diaries or how many there might be. He also didn’t tell her how Rosanna died and claimed to either not know or was unable to disclose whatever Mikki asked about. He then made himself almost completely unavailable to talk with Mikki again.
Mikki’s best friend Darlene is a retired librarian who loves to do research and excels at finding answers. She found that Rosanna had been murdered, probably by a burglar. Tessa and Estelle had been at a movie, finding her when they returned home. They could never face entering the house again. Why they didn’t sell it was a mystery for another day, as is that they left everything behind, including their clothing, hairbrushes, and photographs.
Searching for the diaries was frustrating. Mikki’s young cousin, Luke, and his girlfriend and police officer, Ellen, spent a day helping her. They did learn that someone had structurally shored up the inside of the barn and put in prefab storage lockers that would not have even been available in the 50’s. They looked through other outbuildings and the second-floor rooms used as summer rentals. Time was rushing by, and Mikki didn’t like admitting defeat.
In the meantime, a kooky woman named Bella kept harassing Mikki. Bella blamed Mikki for two typos in her favorite author’s latest novel and was furious that she “ruined” it. She didn’t even believe that Mikki didn’t edit the novel but was an early reader! When she learned the famous romance writer and Mikki were friends, she demanded, begged, and cajoled, wanting to meet her.
The characters are very well defined. I really enjoy Mikki, her friends, and Luke. She can act the dotty older woman just as easily as being the highly educated and intelligent woman she is. I liked seeing her thought processes as she ponders what happened at the farmhouse, where the diaries might be, and how to get Bella out of her life. Luke and Ellen have been great additions to the series.
This novel has been very well plotted and executed, and I admit this puzzle was quite a poser. It was fun to see how touring a living history site could give insight into similar homes of that era and area to Tessa’s family home. It was frightening when someone tried to kill Mikki. I tried to guess where the diaries might be and was surprised when they were revealed. I was also surprised at the full resolution of the mysteries; it was more complex than I had anticipated. I highly recommend this novel and series; each mystery can be enjoyed as a standalone.