I’ve always enjoyed Joan Hess’ Claire Malloy series, even before I had a daughter who occasionally speaks in Capital Letters like Claire’s daughter Caron frequently does. I can’t say that I’ve read every one, but #18 in the series, Deader Homes and Gardens, lives up to the standard set by the others.
The premise is a bit silly, but it fits with the light humor exemplified by Caron’s Manner of Speaking. Claire goes house-hunting when her real estate agent suddenly drives off, leaving her in a house that’s not actually on the market and that’s miles from town. As if that’s not unbelievable enough, Claire then immerses herself in the lives of the family members who live near the home, repeatedly driving the 20 minute route to ask them questions and otherwise intrude on their lives. She, Caron and her best friend Inez variously eat food from the refrigerator, sleep in the not-for-sale house, and search the home for clues. I’m not exactly sure why the family never put a restraining order on Claire.
Anyway, just forget about that and enjoy Claire’s determination to figure out what happened to her realtor, and the guy who used to own the house, and the one who owns it now, and the family patriarch who wanders in and out of the house to use the wine cellar and bar. Watch as other weird family members, one of whom is named Pandora Butterfly, reveal a series of motives and means for various parts of the mystery. And applaud as Claire figures it all out before anyone else does.
It’s just what a cozy should be, with hijinks and humor to cap it all off.