Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters and mystery, lots of fun
The Bottom Line:
Liz must find killer
Before she becomes suspect
Many layered fun
The Body Nesting Next Door
Being essentially a kid at heart, I have loved the previous two books in the Vintage Toyshop series from Barbara Early. I couldn't wait to dive into Death of a Russian Doll, and I'm thrilled to say I loved it.
Before we go further, I do want to issue a spoiler warning. No, I will not be spoiling anything in this book, but because of the set up for this book, it spoils the cliffhanger ending of the previous book in the series. If you don't want that to happen, then just know I can't recommend this series highly enough and go enjoy the earlier books. If you are up to date or you don't care about a spoiled cliffhanger, then keep reading.
It's been a year since we last checked in with Liz McCall and the gang at Well Played, the vintage toy shop that Liz's father started when he retired from the police force in East Aurora. Time hasn't healed the wound caused by the sudden appearance of Marya, Ken's estranged Russian wife. Liz was just finally ready to stop casually dating Ken and take their relationship seriously when Marya appeared. Naturally, the fact that they live in such a small town means the two women see each other whether they want to or not, but the fact that Marya works in the barber/beauty shop next to Well Played isn't helping matters either.
Liz and her father, Hank, live above Well Played, and one night, they awaken to find the police next door. Someone has killed Marya in the barber shop. With Ken sidelined from his job as the police chief by the investigation, Hank steps back into his old job. Liz realizes that she makes as good as suspect as Ken does, so she begins to quietly investigate as well. But it appears that she and Ken were the only ones with motive to kill Marya. Can Liz figure out what really happened?
The book doesn’t wait too long before Marya dies and Liz jumps into action to figure out what happened. We spent time digging into Marya’s past as well as looking for suspects in town, and the result is a book that moves forward at a brisk pace. The climax was logical and wrapped things up perfectly.
Meanwhile, Liz's love life gets some complications as well. I knew how I wanted things to turn out early on, but I’ll leave it for you to discover exactly what happens there.
The characters continue to be strong. There are quite a few series regulars here, and they all pop up at some point. The new characters introduced are a complete hoot.
And that's another thing I appreciate about this series is the humor. There are scenes that made me laugh as I was reading, and we get treated to more of Hank's puns on a couple of occasions as well.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the return of Mark Baker. Those who have read the second book might remember him as a very minor character in that book. He's much more prominent this time around. No, I didn't love this book just because a character was named after me, but it certainly didn't hurt.
Since we've skipped a year since the last book, it is once again Christmas, which also adds to the fun.
Just in case you couldn't tell, I loved this book. Death of a Russian Doll has many layers of fun.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.