DEADER HOMES AND GARDENS
Hess creates some memorable characters, and completely nails the mother-teen daughter relationship. The plot is well constructed, although the confusion over ownership of the house that spawns the mystery isn’t quite plausible.
Claire Malloy goes house-hunting with her realtor and finds the perfect house. Her agent disappears mid-showing and never returns. When Claire decides to make an offer, she discovers that the last owner died accidentally, although there is a much confusion around the cause of death. The deceased’s lover and family are fighting over the property rights, making the sale of the house impossible. When the battle turns to murder, Claire must solve the case before she can buy the house. (MINOTAUR, Feb., 320 pp., $24.99)