by Pat Browning
Since we are in the midst of the Blossom Festival, now seemed like a good time to review mystery novel, Out of Tune, set during the Blossom Festival and written by KRL’s editor-in-chief Lorie Lewis Ham. At the end of this review are instructions on how enter for a chance to win a copy of this book.
This delightful cozy sets us down in the middle of a homecoming by gospel singer Alex Walters. Her grandmother, Edna Harms, summons the family to the small Central California town of Donlyn for their grandfather’s memorial service, coinciding with Edna’s participation in the annual Blossom Trail Bike Ride.
Alex muses, “The big front porch at 351 S. Reed and its old wooden swing were my favorite things about the old house I called home, and the first thing I saw as I pulled into the driveway. The swing moved slightly in the early morning breeze as though propelled by the little legs of a ghost child from the past. My stomach suddenly tied in knots at the same moment my heart leapt for joy. I wished the homecoming had nothing to do with my grandmother.”
With fruit trees in full bloom, the countryside is a cloud of color and fragrance, an unlikely setting for someone as disagreeable as Edna. She is detested by almost everyone, especially her family. After Grandpa Harms died during an African safari, Edna buried him in Africa, came home and sold the family farm with no notice to the grandchildren.
The stage is set for some dirty doings, and they aren’t long in coming. During the service someone slashes the tires on Edna’s blue BMW; Edna and her longtime enemy, Mrs. Kliewer, get into a fistfight; a chandelier falls, narrowly missing Edna; Mrs. Kliewer collapses and is hauled off to the hospital.
It’s just the beginning. During the Blossom Trail Bike Ride somebody tampers with Edna’s water bottle, cuts her bike chain, and almost runs her down with a motorcycle. Meanwhile, a small, dark man keeps appearing at odd times in odd places. A stalker? An assassin? Throw in a death by poison, a strange will and a long list of suspects and you get a mystery that keeps everyone on high alert.
Alex’s recent temporary duty on the police force gives her access to friends in the department who keep her up to date while she pursues an investigation on her own. Adding to the mix is an anonymous letter with a recent photo of her leaving her house. Someone is watching her. She plans to confide in her friend and suitor, Stephen, an attractive private eye who is also the son of a mafioso. Her growing attraction to Detective Will Knight is part of her personal dilemma.
The author saves the biggest surprise for last. Out of Tune is like meeting a friend for coffee at a favorite diner, sliding into a booth and hearing her say, “You won’t believe what happened last weekend!”
Out of Tune is next to the last book in the Alexandra Walter series. Wrapping up the series is The Final Note, published in April 2010, available both in print and as an e-book on Kindle. Check out Lorie’s blog, Mysteryrat’s Closet to see sample chapters and learn more about her books.
To enter to win a copy of Out of Tune, simply email KRL at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Tune”, or comment on this article. U.S. residents only please. A winner will be chosen next Saturday, March 19.