by Sandra Murphy
A cold case, a death by misadventure and a murder all link together to make a great read in the second of the series featuring Bella Kowalski. She’s a former nun, now married to Mike and the lucky person who gets to write obituaries for the Chronicle.
Chris, Bella’s nephew, shows up without warning. His father and stepmother back in Cleveland, want nothing to do with him. Chris is only seventeen and manages to get himself in a couple of typical teenaged scrapes. Mike’s had a heart attack and Bella’s on the watch for symptoms of another. Add in her work with the homeless at St. Pat’s and she’s got a full agenda without dealing in mysterious phone calls and five year old deaths.
Loreli Sereno is supposed to have died in a kayaking accident. The police know there were drugs in her body and she’d been serious about rehab. Still, with no evidence otherwise, the death is ruled accidental. Loreli’s sister Magda didn’t believe it so when an anonymous phone call offers to sell her proof that her sister was murdered, she wants to find out more. She enlists Bella’s help since Bella has a little experience with murder (book one, Murder in Los Lobos).
Before anything can be done, Magda herself is killed. Her boyfriend Martin might be a suspect and there’s Marcus, Jeremy, Walter, and a mysterious stranger to add to the mix. Mike’s been hired to consult with his former police department on a cold case and the money is welcome although Bella worries about the stress. She’s got stress of her own—her workload has increased to obit writer/researcher if she’ll keep an eye on (read spy on) a sleazy co-worker.
Part of the keep-an-eye-on plan includes going undercover at Marcus’ ranch where homeless people are welcome to stay as long as they obey the rules (they don’t always) and help with the work. Luckily for Bella, the undercover work only lasts one night. Unluckily for her co-worker Ben, it’s because he’s killed by a bash over the head. Was Ben behind the mysterious phone call that started the whole mess?
Dominic, Loreli and Magda’s brother is terminally ill with cancer. His gift of a book to Bella answers some questions as well as a box of photos and a video he brings when they meet to write Magda’s obit.
Bella and Mike are likeable characters. Chris has a lot of potential to be in future books. With the newspaper business changing, the bad economy and Mike’s consulting work, there’s plenty to draw on for more plots involving the pair.
Interview With Mystery Author Sue McGinty:
To enter to win a copy of Murder at Cuyamaca Beach, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Beach”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 1, 2012. U.S. residents only.
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