Here's to a Deadly St. Patrick’s Day
I’m noticing that Kensington is increasing their holiday novella collections this coming year. It seems these collections are really finding an audience, which isn’t a surprise since they can be lots of fun. Since Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross have teamed up several times before already, we get a collection focused on a different holiday from them this year – St. Patrick’s Day. Irish Coffee Murder takes us to Maine for three fun mysteries.
The collection starts off with the title novella, which stars reporter Lucy Stone, the main character in Leslie Meier’s long running series. Spring is slow in coming to Tinker’s Cove, but it is March, so when Lucy gets a lead for a potential feature on four Irish step dancing students in the area who are going to be going to national competitions, she thinks it will be perfect to run this month. However, things take a turn after Lucy meets the teens when one of their mothers is found dead. What would lead someone to kill her?
Since I don’t normally read this series, I appreciated that we didn’t get tons about the series regular characters. I know just enough about them to appreciate the little bit of updates we did get. The characters were good, and helped pull me into the story. The pacing was off in the story, however, with too much time spent wandering before things really came together. And I was bothered by how the politics that found its way into the story was presented.
Up next is “Death of an Irish Coffee Drinker” from Lee Hollis and featuring characters from their popular Hayley Powell series. When Hayley’s friend Liddy gets comedian Jefferson O’Keefe to return to Bar Harbor for a special St. Patrick’s Day show, everyone in town is buzzing. Jefferson grew up in town before gaining fame as a comedian, so the show is sure to sell out. Jefferson is warm and friendly, so it is a surprise when he keels over at the after party that Hayley is catering after proposing a toast with his Irish coffee. Can Hayley figure out what really happened?
I don’t read this series, but I’ve read enough novellas to begin to remember who a few of the key characters are, so I enjoyed getting to see them again. The warm and friendly atmosphere that they create pulls me right in. I may have to start the series. The plot is strong, introducing us to a couple of suspects before Jefferson dies, and then giving us a couple of nice twists before we reach the end. Thanks to Hayley’s columns in the local newspaper, we get some funny side stories and several traditional Irish dishes, including one for the title drink.
Rounding things out is “Perked Up,” by Barbara Ross. This novella is the reason I picked up the anthology since I love her Maine Clambake series. When the power goes out on St. Patrick’s Day, Julia and her mother find themselves hosting an impromptu party. Over mugs of Irish coffee, the group starts to discuss an unsolved murder that took place in town on St. Patrick Day back in the 1860’s. Everyone has their own theory on who committed the murder and why. But the night makes Julia curious what really happened. Can she figure it out after all this time?
This novella will definitely please fans of the Maine Clambake series. I loved how the first half unfolded, and it allowed us to spend some time with characters who have been in the background in recent books. I became curious what really happened and how Julia might solve it. I was impressed with how she did that in the end. There was one element I wasn’t thrilled with, but that’s minor. Meanwhile, we also got some updates on ongoing storylines in the series. As a bonus, there’s a recipe for Irish Soda Bread at the end.
Since these are novellas, each story is roughly 100 pages, so there’s just enough time to get a taste of each author and the communities they’ve created. If they leave you hungry for more, there is a list of the books by all the authors in order at the beginning.
It’s nice to see another holiday getting it’s turn in the murder mystery spotlight. Now’s the time to grab a mug of Irish coffee and settle in with Irish Coffee Murder.
If the last story piques your interest, here are the rest of the Maine Clambake Mysteries in order.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.