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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Better Homes and Hauntings

Better Homes and Hauntings - Molly Harper

For pure fun and fantastic, hilarious dialogue rich with snark, you can't go wrong with Molly Harper's books.  There is no deep, subtle satire, or meaningful metaphors for the decline of humanity here, just bucket loads of snappy repartee centered around enduring friendships and well, yes, romance - but not sappy romance!  Sort of rom-com-ish minus the slapstick and stupid misunderstanding tropes.


I'll admit to a (dignified, imo) Squee! when I found out this new book, Better Homes and Hauntings was coming out, immediately followed by a small deflation of my enthusiasm when I discovered this book does not take place in Half Moon Hollow - the setting for the majority of her other books.  I love Half Moon Hollow and it's inhabitants, so it was a bit of a let-down to find I wasn't going to be re-visiting them quite so soon.  Still, I was really eager for this book to arrive (which means of course it took twice as long) and I opened it as soon as it finally got here.

Nina Linden is hired to landscape a private island off the New England coast and she sees it as her chance to rebuild her failing business after being cheated by her unscrupulous ex-partner.

Deacon has paid top dollar to the crews he’s hired to renovate the desolate Whitney estate because the bumps, thumps, and unexplained sightings of ghostly figures in nineteenth-century dress are driving workers away faster than he can say “Boo.”

That's a (heavily edited for brevity) summary from the back of the book, but the story is about the 5 people staying 24/7 on the island:  Nina - landscaper, Jack - architect, Cindy - house manager/organiser, Deacon - owner of house and island and Dotty, his cousin, who's there to write a book about the family history and curse.  While the book centres on Deacon and Nina, we get brief POV changes to the other three as well.


Ms. Harper writes characters I love but I was initially waiting for either Cindy or Dotty to be a Mean Girl. It was not to be and I found myself thinking I'd take any or all three of them as friends any day.  Jack and Deacon are all-around nice guys who are both rich and attractive.  That's perfect, because if I'm going to read for escapism, I prefer my escape to be with attractive, well-funded men.


The plot is a bit of a mystery:  did Deacon's and Dotty's great x 3 grandfather murder his wife?  Was she cheating on him?  Is the house and the family cursed?  Haunted?  Is Nina being stalked?  It was fun, and it was mostly well done (see below).


In terms of pure fun and enjoyment, I would have given this book 4.5 stars.  But I did deduct .5 star for... let's call them continuity issues.  The author herself says in the acknowledgments "There were so many revisions to this manuscript..." and it's obvious reading this book that the story has been heavily revised: references made to things that were most likely removed, and read-throughs failed to catch all the orphaned references.  It felt like more information about Nina's past was originally included but removed at some point, like I was supposed to know more about Rick than I did.


I didn't deduct more than .5 star because my overall enjoyment of the setting, characters and dialogue went a fair way towards glossing over these holes, or orphans; when you're having a good time you're willing to overlook a lot more.  The rest of the book holds together so well, it was just easy to let it go.


and Squee! there's another Half Moon Hollow book coming!