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With three kids to raise on her own, Jane Jeffry sometimes needs a hand with the housework. But many of her complaining neighbors believe that the Happy Helper cleaning lady they all share wouldn't know a dustball if she was choking on it. That hardly seems reason enough, however, to do the disreputable domestic in.
So when the charwoman in question is discovered strangled to death with a vacuum cleaner cord, Jane decides to dig up the real dirt--if the tenacious single mom can find any time to spare between her PTA meetings and car-pooling duties. But despite her busy schedule, Jane is determined to tidy up the whole murderous mess--even if it means provoking a killer who may live as close as next door.
Faith Fairchild is going to Italy, where murder and mayhem mix with pecorino, panna cotta, and Prosecco, in the latest entry in this "highly entertaining mystery series [that] effectively mixes modern-day moral dilemmas with charm, warmth, and humor" (Booklist)
The Body in the Piazza
To celebrate their wedding anniversary, intrepid caterer and sometime sleuth Faith Fairchild and her husband, the Reverend Tom Fairchild, are off to Italy for a vacation filled with exquisite indulgences—the art, the Chianti, the food, the Ferragamos! The plan is to spend a romantic weekend in Rome before heading to Tuscany for a stay at Cucina della Rossi, a cooking school founded by Faith's back-in-the-day assistant Francesca Rossi.
Faith is certain that the only intrigue in store for her will be learning the secret recipe for Nona Rossi's ragu. But a thicker plot begins to simmer when the Fairchilds accidentally stumble upon a dying man in the Piazza Farnese. It's clear from the knife in the victim's chest that murder is on the menu.
Mysterious faces from Rome reappear in Tuscany. To Faith, this is no coincidence. And somebody is intent on sabotaging Francesca's new business by spoiling the cream and salting the flour. As Faith struggles to follow a trail more twisting than fusilli, she may be putting both herself and her husband in hot water.
A Different Kind of Sister Act
Patricia Anne -- "Mouse" -- is respectful, respectable, and demure, a perfect example of genteel Southern womanhood. Mary Alice -- "Sister" -- is big, brassy, flamboyant, and bold. Together they have a knack for finding themselves in the center of some of Birmingham's most unfortunate unpleasantness.
Country Western is red hot these days, so overimpulsive Mary Alice thinks it makes perfect sense to buy the Skoot 'n' Boot bar -- since that's where the many-times-divorced "Sister" and her boyfriend du jour like to hang out anyway. Sensible retired schoolteacher Patricia Anne is inclined to disagree -- especially when they find a strangled and stabbed dead body dangling in the pub's wishing well. The sheriff has some questions for Mouse and her sister Sister, who were the last people, besides the murderer, of course, to see the ill-fated victim alive. And they had better come up with some answers soon -- because a killer with unfinished business has begun sending them some mighty threatening messages...
Japanese-American Rei Shimura is a 27-year-old English teacher living in one of Tokyo's seediest neighborhoods. She doesn't make much money, but she wouldn't go back home to California even if she had a free ticket (which, thanks to her parents, she does.) Her independence is threatened however, when a getaway to an ancient castle town is marred by murder.
Rei is the first to find the beautiful wife of a high-powered businessman, dead in the snow. Taking charge, as usual, Rei searches for clues by crashing a funeral, posing as a bar-girl, and somehow ending up pursued by police and paparazzi alike. In the meantime, she manages to piece together a strange, ever-changing puzzle—one that is built on lies and held together by years of sex and deception.
Three Weddings...And a Murder
So far Meg Langslow's summer is not going swimmingly. Down in her small Virginia hometown, she's maid of honor at the nuptuals of three loved ones--each of whom has dumped the planning in her capable hands. One bride is set on including a Native American herbal purification ceremony, while another wants live peacocks on the law. Only help from the town's drop-dead gorgeous hunk, disappointingly rumored to be gay, keeps Meg afloat in a sea of dotty relatives and outrageous neighbors.
And, in whirl of summer parties and picnics, Souther hospitality is strained to the limit by an offenseive newcomer who hints at skeletons in the guests' closets. But it seems this lady has offended one too many when she's found dead in suspicious circumstances, followed by a string of accidents--some fatal. Soon, level-headed Meg's to-do list extends from flower arragements and bridal registries to catching a killer--before the next catered event is her own funeral...
Sarah Strohmeyer won the 2002 Agatha Award for best first mystery for Bubbles Unbound.
Heavy Snow...Icy Desires...Cold-Blooded Murder
Clare Fergusson, St. Alban's new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative Episcopal parish at Millers Kill, New York. She is not just a "lady," she's a tough ex-Army chopper pilot, and nobody's fool. Then a newborn infant left at the church door brings her together with the town's police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who's also ex-Army and a cynical good shepherd for the stray sheep of his hometown. Their search for the baby's mother quickly leads them into the secrets that shadow Millers Kill like the ever-present Adirondacks. What they discover is a world of trouble, an attraction to each other―and murder...
In the Bleak Midwinter was Julia Spencer-Fleming's first novel, and it won a Macavity Award, an Agatha Award, an Anthony Award, and a Dilys Award.
Maisie Dobbs isn't just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence—and the patronage of her benevolent employers—she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.
The murder of a particularly difficult mother-of-the-bride has cast a pall on wedding planner Annabelle Archer's latest triumph -- and suspicion falls heavily on her sometime-business partner and friend Richard Gerard. Annabelle knows that even her trusted wedding emergency kit won't be able to salvage their careers if she and Richard can't find the real culprit.
It's no easy task since the slain matron was perhaps the most hated socialite in D.C., but Annabelle navigates through the city's colorful wedding industry and powerful social scene on the deadly trail of a killer. Always the bridal consultant and never the bride, she's seen her fair share of bouquet tosses. But there's no telling what surprises a ruthless killer will throw her way if she gets too close.
From deep in the heart of his eighteenth century English manor, millionaire Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk writes mystery novels and torments his four spoiled children with threats of disinheritance. Tiring of this device, the portly patriarch decides to weave a malicious twist into his well-worn plot. Gathering them all together for a family dinner, he announces his latest blow – a secret elopement with the beautiful Violet... who was once suspected of murdering her husband.Within hours, eldest son and appointed heir Ruthven is found cleaved to death by a medieval mace. Since Ruthven is generally hated, no one seems too surprised or upset – least of all his cold-blooded wife Lillian. When Detective Chief Inspector St. Just is brought in to investigate, he meets with a deadly calm that goes beyond the usual English reserve. And soon Sir Adrian himself is found slumped over his writing desk – an ornate knife thrust into his heart. Trapped amid leering gargoyles and stone walls, every member of the family is a likely suspect. Using a little Cornish brusqueness and brawn, can St. Just find the killer before the next-in-line to the family fortune ends up dead?
Death of a Cozy Writer was chosen by Kirkus Reviews as a Best Book of 2008, nominated for a Left Coast Crime award (the Hawaii Five-O for best police procedural), short-listed for the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery, nominated for the Anthony Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the David G. Sasher, Sr. Award for Best Mystery Novel.
G.M. Malliet's Death of a Cozy Writer won the 2008 Agatha Award for Best First Novel and a silver medal for the IPPY awards in the category of Mystery/Suspense/Thriller.