Drop-Dead Authors | Mysteries

In these literary mystery cases, two (fictional) best-selling authors die while in front of their adoring fans.

Carter, Andrea. Death Writes. Oceanview. (Inishowen Mystery, Bk. 6). Dec. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9781608095667. $27.95. M

In the sixth Inishowen mystery (following The Body Falls), solicitor Benedicta “Ben” O’Keeffe learns that four or five strangers have moved into her parents’ home, so she and her boyfriend, Police Sergeant Tom Molloy, rush to Dublin. The people are gone, except for one man from her parents’ grief group. After learning Molloy is a Garda, he clears out, leaving her parents fearful. Ben talks them into coming to visit her, just in time for Glendara’s Glenfest literary festival. The festival organizers have scored a coup: Gavin Featherstone, a Booker Prize winner and local resident, will appear as keynote speaker. Just as Featherstone begins to read from his forthcoming memoir, he keels over and dies. Ben’s office holds Featherstone’s original will, so his estranged wife and adult children must consult her. Then the author’s assistant brings a later will leaving everything to him. Now Ben has a dilemma. Evidence reveals Featherstone was poisoned, and a killer can’t inherit, so the estate will be up in the air until the murderer is discovered. VERDICT Fans of Carlene O’Connor’s “County Kerry” novels may appreciate this riveting mystery that can stand alone as a story of complex family relationships.

Prose, Nita. The Mystery Guest. Ballantine. (Molly the Maid, Bk. 2). Nov. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9780593356180. $29. M

Three years after a previous encounter with murder, Molly Gray is head maid at the Regency Grand Hotel, a five-star boutique hostelry. She’s trained her new maid, Lily, to handle the tea cart for the inn’s guest speaker, J.D. Grimthorpe, the best-selling author of over 20 mysteries, a recluse who seldom appears in public. The media and his rabid fans have gathered at the inn to catch a glimpse. Grimthorpe surprises everyone, first by coming down from the stage to doctor his own tea, and then by dropping dead just before he can finish his speech. Molly has the presence of mind to remove Lily from the scene, but she can’t prevent her old nemesis, Detective Stark, from investigating Grimthorpe’s death. When it’s revealed he was poisoned, Molly realizes she may hold the key to the case; as a young girl, she visited the Grimthorpe mansion, and Molly’s past encounters with the author may hold the truth to his death years later. VERDICT The sequel to Prose’s award-winning debut The Maid marks the return of a charming protagonist with awkward social skills and a big heart.

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