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A Bed and Breakfast mystery

By Mary Daheim

William Morrow, July 25, 2006 ($23.95)
ISBN: 0-06-056651-5

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

Judith Flynn's bed and breakfast has seen so much murder and mayhem that the 9-1-1 operators know the number by heart. When new neighbor Rudi Wittener, a concert violinist with an irritating habit of practicing early, late, and often, asks Judith to host a party for his mentor, Dolph Kluger, and assorted family members and hangers-on, she should have known better, but hey, she really needed the business.

The fateful party features two poisonings, one fatal, a missing, priceless violin bow, and stolen credit cards belonging to Judith's cousin and frequent partner in crime-solving, Serena. Poor Renie, she constantly bemoans her destitute state - the thief couldn't have picked a less lucrative victim. When Renie isn't harping on her impoverished state, Judith is obsessing about her artificial hip and all the ways it limits her. I thought the surgery was supposed to help, not hinder her, but in any case she is very protective of it. Good thing she doesn't get knocked around too much in this outing.

There is an abundance of colorful and screwy characters: Rudi's ex-wife, their son Fritz, Dolph's sensitive wife, her athletic daughter, her Nazi nurse, and a very odd young man who claims to be Dolph's illegitimate son. Judith is stuck with them all while the police try to figure out who done it, and, needing to get back to hosting paying guests, she does her best to help them with their inquiries.

This was not my favorite in the series, but fans will enjoy it. One thing I was glad about, Judith's mother seems less strident, insulting, and hateful than in previous books. Maybe she's mellowing in her very old age. I almost liked her in this book. It's time Judith got some respect from dear old Mother. It's also time she got some guests who don't become either murder victims or murderers, but then the 9-1-1 operators might get bored.

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