The third book in the Cackleberry Club Mystery series, published in 2010.
After losing their husbands, Suzanne, Toni and Petra bonded, gaining a newfound independence as well as a wealth of support, inspiration, home baked goods, and their own business. But who would have dreamed that when the Cackleberry Club café opened its doors, the three women would be serving justice to criminals …
Sleuthing is never over easy.
Getting ready for Halloween, the ladies at the Cackleberry Club café are busy carving jack-o-lantern’s, stocking up on candy, and baking pumpkin bread. But someone’s jumped the gun on the tricks. As mayoral candidate Chuck Peebler leaves the café, he gets struck with a crossbow arrow and is killed instantly. When another murder occurs on the historical society’s Quilt Trail, there’s no disguising it – a murderer is running loose in the town of Kindred. Now Suzanne’s on the beat to sniff out one bad egg…
The ladies of the Cackleberry Club have organized a read-date event for the older singles in town. Based on your reading preferences, you can look if you are compatible. Kind of speed dating with books. Everything is going well, when there is a verbal fight between Chuck Peebler, who is running for mayor, and Jane Buckley, the librarian of the local university, and one of Petra’s best friends. By shuffling the daters around again, everything is hushed up quietly. The Book Nook is doing good business, and the refreshments offered are very much enjoyed.
After locking up for the evening, Suzanne and Toni find Chuck Peebler lagging around, and Suzanne leaves with him through the back door. Where Chuck gets shot in the head with a crossbow arrow. Suzanne flees back inside, dragging her old dog Baxter with her. More arrows thud against the walls of the café, and she manages to call 911.
Sheriff Doogie has the difficult task to find the killer. First piece of business of course is finding out the people with a hunting license for a cross bow.
Mayor Bascomb is not so sad about things, now he has no competition left for the elections. Neither is his campaign manager, the towns most sleazy lawyer. But the Sheriff is also looking at Jane, as she had words with the victim. Petra urges Suzanne to do some sleuthing of her own, to clear Jane’s name, and Suzanne reluctantly agrees. Then Toni finds the next clue: Chuck Peebler was not such a nice man after all, he used to harass the exotic dancers at Hooblers, over in the next town.
And there are some more suspects along the road.
But life in the Cackleberry Club is never quiet. Petra and Suzanne try out the new Quilt trail, a trail leading to all the historical sites in the county, and through a gorgeous autumn landscape. Then they find the abandoned car of one of the sheriff’s men along the trail, and Suzanne investigates. She stumbles upon the body of one of the young deputies, and sheriff Doogie is devastated. One of his men is murdered, and he still has no clue. Are the two murders related at all? On the way home, Suzanne finds an injured dog and takes him home with her, calling Dr. Sam Hazelet to examine the dog. They end up spending their first night together, and that is something that hopefully will happen again. Only Sam is not so happy with her sleuthing, the fact she puts herself in danger.
But Suzanne has got to finish what she started, especially when her car is blown up while they are having a nice dinner. And then it is time for the preparations of their big Halloween party. The ladies go all out, even Toni’s good-for-nothing-almost-ex-husband Junior is helping. The evening is a big success, and the murderer is apprehended at last.
A great story. I love Laura Childs books, they are my favourite cozy’s. I did not see this ending coming, had no clue about the identity of the killer this time. And that is a good thing of course!
I like the three ladies, they are older than usual, with a whole life behind them, but are still so positive and full of ideas and zest, it is fun to read. Also the dishes Petra creates sound so delicious. For the bakers: there are recipes in these books! Even I am tempted by them.