Three Widows and a Corpse
Food Blogger Mysteries #3
By Debra Sennefelder
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Food blogger Hope Early finds one item not on her scavenger hunt list—a dead husband . . .
Between developing her food blog, Hope at Home, and choosing low-cal recipes for a feature in Cooking Now! magazine, Hope has a full plate. Still, she’s never too busy to compete in a Jefferson, Connecticut, tradition—the town’s annual scavenger hunt.
But as she races with her team to check off the next item, Hope discovers a grisly surprise—the body of shady real estate developer Lionel Whitcomb, shot in a parking lot. His wife Elaine, who’s also in the hunt, gasps and nearly faints. But two other women on the scene cry out that their husband is dead.
It turns out this louse of a spouse was more than a little lax in legally divorcing his former wives. Did one of them put a bullet in the bigamist? Number one suspect and number three wife Elaine begs Hope to investigate. Now Hope is on a new kind of hunt—for a cold-hearted killer and triple widow-maker . . .
Includes Recipes from Hope’s Kitchen! (From Goodreads)
One thing worse than a man’s widow shouting that her husband has been killed at the scene of the crime is when a second, then a third woman shouts that their husbands have been murdered…and they are all referring to the same man! Thus begins the investigation into the next murder in the formerly-quiet Jefferson, Connecticut where the new mayor blames Hope Early, Food Blogger, for the rash of murders since she moved back home. I enjoyed the premise of the mystery, the central characters, and the challenge of the mystery itself.
Hope Early, former magazine editor for the popular Meals in Minutes and competitor on a reality baking show, The Sweet Taste of Success, returned to Jefferson and went full-time into her food blog, Hope at Home. She is also remodeling the lovely old home she purchased and raises chickens, using the eggs for her recipes. She has been involved with murder investigations for deaths occurring since her return and is determined to no longer get involved. Her friend since school days, Ethan, is now chief of police and her boyfriend. Despite her curiosity, she is happy with Ethan, growing her blog, and community involvement. She is also spending a few days as a contributing editor for Cooking Now magazine.
The annual scavenger hunt is underway; Hope and her team arrive at the Avery Bistro to fetch an item. Hope sees something odd in the back parking lot – the jaguar of Lionel, a developer discovered to have possibly committed some crimes in a prior murder she was looking into. The driver’s door was open. Hope walked back to it and found Lionel dead.
Unfortunately, the team with Elaine, Lionel’s wife, had just arrived. People began to go see why Hope was screaming, then they hear Elaine’s scream that her husband was dead. Within minutes, two other women, both visitors staying at the Merrifield Inn who didn’t know each other, went back. Each of them, after seeing Lionel, cried out that their husband was dead. Miranda and Rona, wives number 1 and 2, apparently had never obtained signatures necessary to get their divorces since Lionel left them and they had both only recently learned where he was.
Elaine, who has never made friends easily with other women, suddenly claims that Hope is her only friend and wants her help. First it is catering the reception for her husband’s funeral. Then it is finding out who really killed Lionel, since Hope helped find killers before. Hope also becomes a referee when Elaine is at her home and another wife shows up, then at the reception when the other wife shows up. Hope doesn’t want to help find killers anymore; she has too many things on her plate already. When her home is vandalized, she is attacked, and one of her friends is killed, it becomes a little too personal. Despite Claire and Ethan wanting Hope to stay out of the situation, Hope has to get involved.
Hope is very well defined. The mystery is not written in first person, yet shows her thoroughly, as a friend, girlfriend, entrepreneur, and pet mama. I enjoyed getting to know her better throughout. Other characters are defined as fitting their roles.
One of the things I enjoyed about this novel is that the mystery takes first place. While we learn more about the life of a food blogger, Hope’s family, pets, friends, and relationships, the primary focus is on the murders and related events. There are multiple components and people involved, even a loose cannon that I briefly suspected. There was one person, however, that I considered early on who only got stronger in my sights until one event that almost discounted the person. There are still surprises, but I was happy to have guessed right, even if I did change my mind for a while. I highly recommend this cozy!