A tiny Minnesota town, an Irish golf course and an abandoned New England home are all host to murder most foul in this month's cozy column.
★ Death on the Green
Megan Malone’s job as a limo driver allows her to explore Dublin with fascinating clients like champion golfer Martin Walsh. But when she spies a man facedown in a water hazard, her U.S. Army medic training has her jumping in straightaway to help. It’s Martin’s friend and rival, and his death was no accident. There is so much to like about the cozy perfection that is Catie Murphy’s Death on the Green, from the lush Irish travelogue to the precise balance between comic relief and crime. Megan’s friendships and romantic life—dating a woman but also crushing on a male detective—give the story a lived-in feel. And while murder is nasty business, there are cuddle sessions with the Jack Russell pups that Megan keeps telling herself she’s fostering, not adopting. All this plus seeing justice done? Megan (which is to say, Murphy) makes it look easy.
15 Minutes of Flame
Nantucket candle-shop owner Stella Wright is transforming a friend’s abandoned house into a Halloween wonderland, with help from the local Girl Scouts. A separate building on the property reveals an old chandlery . . . and a skeleton. Christin Brecher’s 15 Minutes of Flame combines a historical mystery with present-day murder, all against the spooky backdrop of New England in autumn. The deep bench of suspects includes an ambitious producer who wants to film the skeleton for a Netflix special and a local woman who claims to speak for the spirits of the dead. The history of candle clocks (and the way they feature in the story’s conclusion) is a fascinating bonus.
In a Midnight Wood
Ellen Hart’s 27th Jane Lawless mystery finds Jane and BFF Cordelia headed to Castle Lake, Minnesota, to meet up with an old friend. But while they’re there, a grave exhumation reveals a second set of remains stashed beneath a coffin, belonging to long-missing local Sam Romilly. In a Midnight Wood flashes back to when Sam disappeared in 1999 and slowly reveals what actually happened to him. The shifts between storylines let the pressure build, and an impending high school class reunion means many characters are confronting many different ghosts at once. Jane and Cordelia, both lesbians, tread lightly in conservative Castle Lake, but Jane is able to earn the trust of a few suspects . . . and maybe find love.