by Sandra Murphy
Here is another fun Halloween mystery. Details on how to enter to win a copy of this book at the end of this review, along with a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL.
Liss MacCrimmon Ruskin’s Scottish Emporium does a lot of online business. During leaf-peeping season, day trippers stop to visit the unique shops. In spite of Internet orders, face-to-face customers by the busload and a new husband, Liss finds time to volunteer for the town’s Halloween fundraiser.
Years ago, Blackie O’Hare, gangster and hit man, married a local girl. When she died, he inherited the house. His life of crime caught up with him and he was sent to prison and died there too, a victim of a stabbing. The murderer was never discovered. Neither was the fortune Blackie was rumored to have left in the house. Some say it was diamonds, some say cash, others swear it was gold. Over time, people have looked but so far, no one claims to have found the stash, but would they tell? After all, the town of Moosetookalook, Maine, repossessed the house for back taxes and that included the contents.
The house is basically in good shape but peeling wallpaper, dim lighting and creaking doors lend themselves to the haunted house Liss envisions. Her husband Dan inspects and declares the house safe for those who love to be scared and work starts on adding special effects like a skeleton who sits up when anyone enters the room.
Since Liss loves anything Scottish, she suggests apple dookin’ aka bobbing for apples. Her idea for treacle scones is voted down though–a scone-on-a-rope, doused with molasses, would be funny but too messy, especially for the costumed guests. The dining room scene, mannequins dressed Victorian style, poisoned during the family dinner, is a hit.
Unfortunately, every time Liss goes to the mansion to work, things are moved around or missing, including one of the large bobbing tubs and a mannequin. The house has two deadbolts, Liss has one key and the town clerk the other. How could anyone get in? The cellar is off limits to guests but not to the mysterious ghost of a visitor. Holes are dug and everyone agrees, someone is looking for Blackie’s treasure but skeletal remains are what show up. Is it one of Blackie’s victims?
On the day of the fundraiser, Liss and Dan arrive to do a final check of all the spooky equipment. Liss is upset to see the prop skeleton is missing and more upset to find a dead body on the couch instead. It’s worse because it’s someone she knows–Cousin Ned who is supposed to be in jail for another couple of years (manslaughter charge). No one knew he’d been released or was in the area.
The suspects for the treasure hunter could be most anybody. There’s the guy who wants to buy the house, a twelve-year old kid who’s been seen hanging around, Ned himself or even members of the Halloween committee. Suspect for Ned’s murder are fewer. His former girlfriend is arrested but swears she didn’t do it. Liss tends to believe her.
This is a timely October read, nice characters in a town you’d like to visit, leaf-peeping season or not. The shops are as unique as the people who run them. Liss and Dan are finding their way as a couple while both operate their own storefronts. There’s genuine warmth between Liss and Aunt Margaret that shows in every scene.
At the back of the book, there’s an excerpt of Ho Ho Homocide, due out in November 2014. Vampires, Bones and Treacle Scones is the seventh book in the series. Enough information is given about previous events that the books can be read out of order, but not so much that there’s no need to read the first six because of spoilers.
To enter to win a copy of Vampires, Bones and Treacle Scones, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Scones,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 18, 2014. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
Use this link to purchase a copy of the book & a portion goes to help support KRL: