Partying with a Corpse or Three
Holidays are an excuse for parties, and Halloween is no exception. In fact, I feel like it is second only to Christmas for the number of parties people plan. Of course, no one plans for a murder to take place during a party, but that’s just what happens in Halloween Party Murder, a new novella collection featuring stories by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross.
Leslie Meier kicks things off with the title novella. It finds her series sleuth, Lucy Stone, helping plan a haunted house fund raiser at the home of relative new comers Ty and Heather Moon. However, when Lucy finds a dead body during the after party, things take an unexpected turn. Will she figure out what is going on?
I don’t normally read this series, so I was thrilled to actually recognize the characters of Ty and Heather since they also featured prominently in the previous Halloween novella collection from this set of authors. This novella focuses mostly on the mystery at hand, and doesn’t bring in sub-plots involving Lucy’s family. Again, since I don’t read the series, this was a good thing for me since I don’t have the connections to all the supporting characters. The mystery was good, and I enjoyed watching Lucy’s efforts to figure out what was happening. The element I struggled with the most was the politics brought into this story. There is a local election happening, and the campaigning does play into Lucy’s motives to solve the case, but I still felt like we were being lectured during many of those scenes.
Up next, we get “Death of a Halloween Party Monster” by Lee Hollis. This story features Lee’s series star Hayley Powell, who is hosting a Halloween party at her new restaurant. However, the night ends in horror when the body of the high school music teacher is found in the freezer. Is one of Hayley’s friends a killer?
Again, I don’t read this series, but I found myself feeling right at home partying with these characters from the beginning. I did figure out one aspect of the story early on, but there were several more, including the identity of the killer, that I hadn’t pieced together until Hayley did. The ending was great and kept me turning the pages.
Which brings us to “Scared Off” by Barbara Ross. Julia Snowden responds to a panic call from her niece, who was supposed to be spending the night with two friends but needs help when a party breaks out. The police have been called, and, while they are making sure everyone is gone, discover a dead body in the shed outback. Was Julia’s niece spending the evening with a killer?
I LOVE Barbara Ross’s Maine Clambake series, so this novella is the reason I picked up the collection. If you are also a fan but haven’t read the most recent book, Shucked Apart, a word of warning that this story contains spoilers for that book. Anyway, this was my favorite novella in the collection. I enjoyed getting to spend some times with the characters, and I loved how the mystery unfolded.
Since Lee Hollis and Barbara Ross both write culinary cozy series, their novellas both feature recipes to help you plan your own Halloween party (hopefully, without a corpse).
All three of these stories are entertaining. I’m sure other readers will connect to the stories differently depending on which series they read. If you are thinking about trying out the authors included in the series, this is a great way to sample them and see if you are interested in reading more from them.
While it might be a little early to think about planning a Halloween party, Halloween Party Murder will help get you in the mood. Pick up this book and you are in for a spooky good time.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.