Thursday, November 13, 2008

Killer Cousins-June Shaw

Killer Cousins
June Shaw
Five Star, Jan 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 1594147302

Cealie Gunther was preparing to go to Mexico when she receives an urgent call from her cousin Stevie Midnight to come over as son as possible as she is in danger. Cealie rushes to Stevie’s house in Gatlinburg, Tennessee only to trip over a corpse. Police Detective Renwick questions the feuding cousins with Stevie insisting she did not know the victim and an upset Cealie told not to leave town. Cealie is stunned to learn Stevie’s plea for help was based on her so called psychic skills.

Cealie accompanies Stevie to her Quitters Group; a support team helping each other quit smoking. There she learns the victim Pierce Trottier was a member of the group although Stevie still insists she never saw him. At the newly opened Cajun Delights owned by Cealie’s sometime lover restaurateur Gil Thurman, another Quitters Group attendee Fawn McKenzie dies with her face landing in the source. As Cealie and Stevie argue, they investigate the group members to determine who is applying the Christie story And Then There Were None.

The second Cealie amateur sleuth mystery (see RELATIVE DANGER) is an interesting whodunit that takes a somewhat backseat to the feuding KILLER COUSINS”. Stevie and Cealie spend much of the first half of the book irritating one another as if they were still little girls competing for their grandma’s affection. The efforts to stop smoking is deftly handled and can be summed up by quoting Mark Twain: "Quitting smoking is easy; I've done it a thousand times", as the addiction is craving for relief all the time. The story line is at its best in the second half when the cousins stop fighting and team up as relentless amateur sleuths solving a murder mystery, middle age dieting, and controlling the cigarette addiction. Overall June Shaw provides a fine Tennessee cozy.

Harriet Klausner