Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery; fun fall feeling
Cons: Some suspects could use more development early on
The Bottom Line:
Hit and run murder
Start this Halloween cozy
With a well-done plot
Halloween Hit and Run
Halloween came early for me this year. While I don’t always get to read books in the season they are set, I do believe this is the earliest I have read a book set at Halloween in a long time. But in the case of Crypt Suzette, it was well worth reading any time of year.
This book is the sixth entry in the Five-Ingredient Mysteries series. It features Val Deniston, who runs a café at a health club and also moonlights as a caterer. She is living with her grandfather, who writes a weekly recipe column for the local newspaper. Clearly, there’s lots of food involved in these cozies.
Bayport, Maryland is about to get a new bookstore, and Val has been asked to cater the event. Since the bookstore is opening just a few days before Halloween, she’s offering some Halloween twists on treats, and the festivities are going to include a literary themed costume contest. Val is delighted when Suzette Cripps enters the contest. Suzette is a college student who has started renting a room from Val’s grandfather since it is close to her job.
The morning after the party, the police arrive to inform them that Suzette has died, the victim of a hit and run. The police are investigating it as an accident, but Val fears it is something more. Suzette seemed to have secrets and be afraid of someone. Was she just paranoid? Or did someone kill her?
This series uses the number five as a hook, with each book featuring five clues and five suspects. Actually, I think we had more than five suspects, although some of them weren’t suspects for very long. However, this keeps the book moving forward since Val and her grandfather are always looking at someone different as a suspect in the killings. The clues are sprinkled throughout the book, but as Val pulls everything together in the end, they all point to one killer. I’m impressed with how they were mixed into the plot and felt foolish for not figuring them out myself.
Because there are so many suspects, I felt like some of them could have been better developed early on. I had a bit of a problem keeping a few straight in the first half of the book. However, as the story progressed, we got to know them all better, and they all become strong suspects.
As far as series regulars go, Val and her grandfather get by far the most page time. They are a good pair both as characters and as a detecting duo. Honestly, Granddad is a hoot who takes on ghost hunting for this book. He’s a delight. Of course, Val is a strong main character, and I enjoy spending time with her.
The Halloween setting is used well. We get a strong fall feeling, and there are several scenes that make full use of the season, including a very creepy scene late in the book.
And yes, we get five recipes with five ingredients each at the end of the book. Okay, so there’s a little cheating going on there, but I’ll let it slide since a multiple of five is involved. (And I’ll leave it for you to see what I mean.)
Now might not be Halloween season, but Crypt Suzette will put you in the fall mood. Whether you save it for October or read it now, I definitely recommend this book.
And be sure to check out the rest of the Five Ingredient Mysteries.
NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book.