My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway (which did not alter my review) and I was very excited because while I’ve been reading mysteries for thirty odd years, I don’t get to see many set in Canada. Unfortunately for me, this is book number five in the series but when I put my name in to win, I figured most mystery series make it easy for you to catch up on the back story. I wasn’t wrong. I never once felt lost.
Randy Craig is a historical researcher, some times lecturer (though not this time) and is working for the Rutherford House in Edmonton (It’s a real place. I suspect most of the places in the book are real). She’s working on making an interactive web site to draw in more people. Randy is enjoying the research, concentrating more on Mrs. Rutherford rather than her famous husband. However, her work doesn’t have the approval of everyone. Greta Larsen, an elderly board member for one, wants to put a stop to it and to most of the things Randy’s boss, Marni, are doing (i.e. events for the public). She would have the historic house be an unapproachable shrine and the public kept from it.
As the book opens, Marni has had her way and they’re doing a magic and mystery dinner theatre night but something goes very wrong and a young waitress, Jossi, is murdered in an upstairs bathroom. Randy is worried that her boyfriend, Steve’s boss will be furious about her tangential involvement in yet another murder. Steve is a detective and his boss the captain, who apparently has a history of being anti-Randy. In this MacDonald has combined my favorite and least favorite things in an amateur detective mystery. They only work for me if the amateur has a friendly association with the police (husband, lover, relative) and it doesn’t work for me at all if it’s antagonistic and/or the police are idiots. In this one, Steve’s boss never makes an appearance.
Trying to put the death behind her, along with the nagging worries that it could have been her, Randy keeps working on the website, in spite of the threat of losing the job thanks to Greta. Even Mrs. Rutherford had mysteries of her own. However, Randy keeps getting drawn back into the mystery as others with ties to the house are killed and her own apartment isn’t just robbed, it’s trashed to the point she has to replace nearly everything she owns. Randy realizes she needs to get to the bottom of this before she’s the next to go.
I enjoyed this very much. It was fun to try and parse some of the Canadian slang I’ve never heard. Randy and Steve are a fun couple, though their relationship was a tad flat but that could be me not having seen the first four books so I didn’t take it into consideration as I reviewed this. I liked Randy a lot. I identified with her heavily. I love historical sites, I teach at a university, heck I even ate the Mizithra pasta at Old Spaghetti Factory (when I was introduce to them on Vancouver Island) for the same reason (they bill at as what the ancient Greeks might have eaten, even though I know it’s really not). I even had my own version of the Rutherford House and a Greta Larsen (though in my case, Greta won). I enjoyed this as I said while it’s hard to go back and read the mysteries that came before it, I might. I will definitely be getting the next in the series though.
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