MOURNING SHIFT (a Tory Bauer mystery)
By Kathleen Taylor

Avon Books, 1998 (paperback 277 p.)

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Tory is an overweight, overworked, and inquisitive waitress in the tiny town of Delphi, South Dakota. Halloween at the Delphi Cafe is a nightmare, beginning with the dumb costumes she and her co-workers are forced to wear, continuing with the rambunctious behavior of the Zombie Girl Scout troop led by her pregnant and prissy cousin Junior, and moving right along to the discovery of a dead stranger in the cafe’s bathroom. It turns out he’s not a stranger to the cafe’s owner, the chain-smoking Aphrodite.

Tory has to solve the murders while dealing with her dying relationship with the local feedstore owner, an unexpected inheritance, and the exasperating out-of-town relatives of the murdered man, who just happen to show up immediately after the demise of their loved one. These kinfolk, a Junoesque stripper daughter and her explosives-happy son, seem more greedy than grieving.

There are more tricks than treats in this spooky holiday adventure. Tory begins hearing ghostly whispers and the scent of phantom cigarette smoke after getting too close to an explosion. Is it a head injury or the spirit of a dear departed friend aiding her in discovering the murderer?

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