Dust to Dust

Crooked Lane. (Ivy Nichols Mystery, Bk. 2). Aug. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9781643857343. $26.99. M
Ivy Nichols is convinced her panic attacks and anxiety disorder are inherited from the Morrows, the ancestors she never knew. The Morrows’ former house has been turned into Hotel 1911, the period-theme hotel where Ivy now works. She’s there to look for stories of her ancestors, and Mr. Fig, the hotel’s general manager, can tell those stories. When a guest is strangled to death, Mr. Fig is arrested for the murder. Ivy is determined to exonerate him and find the secrets kept by the victim’s fiancé and members of the Gravestone Friends club. She searches the hotel for hidden passages that would enable a killer to reach the guest rooms; slowly unravels the secrets of the guests and of the house itself; and discovers a shocking truth about the Morrows. Ivy narrates her own slow-paced investigation, so readers only know what she believes to be the truth, until a newspaper photo reveals another side to the story.
VERDICT The follow-up to Murder at Hotel 1911 is a slow-moving, character-driven story. Keown has created sympathetic, realistic characters, including a young boy on the autism spectrum, and portrays Ivy’s struggles with anxiety. It takes a while for the story to unwind, with all the background Keown reintroduces, so this mystery is suggested only for those who read the series’ first book.
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