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By Laura Childs
Berkley Prime Crime, 2010 ($7.99)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Suzanne Dietz, one of the three partners in the Cackleberry Club Cafe, is shocked, to say the least, when someone shoots obnoxious mayoral candidate Chuck Peebler right between the eyes with an arrow as the two are talking in the backyard of the café. She grabs her dog, bolts the back door, and tells the staff to duck and cover as she calls 911. Arrows continue to strike the building, causing Suzanne to wonder whether there's a deranged killer outside, or whether she might be the real target.
Roy Doogie, sheriff of the Midwestern town of Kindred and regular patron of the café, is stymied. The arrows came from a crossbow, not the usual hunting weapon of choice in the county. He realizes he could use some help from Suzanne, who's had some success as an amateur sleuth. She'll give it to him, whether he wants it or not, especially since one of her best customers is a prime suspect.
Business is booming at the café. Besides creating delicious and healthy meals, Suzanne and her business partners, Toni and Petra, are branching out, serving English tea parties and "read dating," where single men and women spent a few minutes discussing their reading taste to see if they're compatible. No matches so far, but the ladies have hope it will catch on. They are also preparing for Halloween, making up special goodies, and working on the Logan County Quilt Trail, sponsored by the local historical society. Places of historic significance to the county are marked by quilt designs painted onto wooden signs, and history buffs can follow the trail at their own pace. Suzanne wants to be sure everything is clearly marked, and manages to get lost. After dark, alone on a back road. It doesn't take her long to stumble over another body. Soon there are rumors of a serial killer.
There's a new doctor in town, Sam Hazelet, and he and Suzanne are developing a nice relationship. He'd prefer she stick to her knitting, and cooking, and reading, rather than track down murderers, and in truth she'd rather do that too, but sometimes a gal's gotta do what she can to help a friend.
This is a no bones about it cozy, with knitting and books and charming small-town characters - and of course, some delicious recipes. I guarantee you'll get hungry just reading the daily menus at the Cackleberry Club Café.
This is the third in the Cackleberry Club series.
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