The mystery in Child’s latest Cackleberry Club offering won’t stand up to much scrutiny — clues to the culprit are practically non-existent, and Suzanne’s investigative skills rely heavily on luck and not on analysis. It’s easy to overlook these problems, however, because the characters are just so darned charming and the portrait of a small town’s sense of pride and community is spot-on. Suzanne, Toni and Petra are normal women with normal personal problems, and Kindred, like any small town, has its share of scoundrels and saints. Like a soufflé, there’s not much substance here, but it’s still a tasty concoction that is as warming as a mug of hot chocolate on a cold evening.
When a mayoral candidate is killed right outside the back door of the Cackleberry Club, owners Suzanne, Toni and Petra find themselves up to their elbows in suspects. When Suzanne discovers a second body and Sheriff Doogie begins to doubt his investigative abilities, Suzanne is determined to solve the crimes and restore normality to all of their lives. (PRIME CRIME, Dec., 336 pp., $7.99)