Scone Cold Dead
Kensington, Aug 2008, $22.00
Liss MacCrimmon had to retire at the age of twenty-seven from Strathspey, a company of Scottish dancers that she was part of for years. She returned to her hometown of Moosetookalook, Maine where she co-owns with her aunt the Moosetookalook Scottish Emporium. She is very excited as her formers Dance Company is coming to town to perform at the student center of the University of Maine at Fallstown.
At a reception after a show, she is glad to see her old and trusted friends, but also sad as she misses performing especially on the road. Troupe manager Victor Owens is eating a special cocktail scone when he keels over and dies. Apparently the scone contained mushrooms, which he was allergic to. It seems obvious that someone murdered him. Liss questions each dancer individually and realizes that the victim was considered surly, sarcastic and abusive; those were his positive traits. He had plenty of people angry with his overall meanness and his ability to publicly humiliate his performers. When the lead detective realizes the troupe is hiding things, he asks Liss to assist him, but he only intended for her to help with the questioning not the dangerous sleuthing.
Kaitlyn Dunnett has written a character driven regional cozy that provides the audience with an interesting look at a traveling dance troupe. Sub-genre fans will appreciate SCONE COLD DEAD as the story line contains enough suspense to keep the reader alert (and avoiding mushrooms) yet a strong local and visiting cast makes for a delightful read. Although why a professional would ask an amateur to help on a homicide investigation even if he does not understand the vernacular or the reticence of the dancers seems a stretch; this technique enables the audience to see behind the scenes of the troupe. Filled with plenty of local characters also, perhaps Ms. Dunnett might consider a side series starring the townsfolk in their own tales.