Rachel Stowe, mystery writer, gets involved in solving a real-life murder mystery in her new town of Juniper Grove, Colorado in Death of a Dead Man by Karin Kaufman. One morning, Julia Foster, Rachel’s neighbor and one of two real friends in her new hometown, shows Rachel the local newspaper and tells her about an event from seven years earlier. Julia has just had her husband, George, declared dead after seven long years of waiting to be allowed to do so. George Foster and his pal, bank VP Mitch Dillard, robbed the local bank of $300,000 seven years and five days earlier, with Dillard’s getting killed in the getaway attempt. Everyone assumed that George perished too, but since his body never surfaced, Julia had to wait all this time to be able to get her husband declared dead. Rachel needs to know about this because the local newspaper, known for pushing the limit on scandal-mongering, has published Rachel’s name, occupation, and age in telling its readers that George was rumored to have buried the missing money in the backyard of the home Rachel recently moved into.
To add grief to the already incendiary newspaper article, Julia, their mutual friend Holly, and the local officials have received anonymous letters accusing Julia of having colluded with her husband in the bank heist and claiming that George is still alive. Julia and Holly hope that being a mystery writer, Rachel will help them locate the person who wrote this anonymous letter. Though pointing out that she has no actual experience with investigation, Rachel agrees, and the three women meet at Rachel’s house that night. But when they go to Rachel’s backyard, they spot a big hole not previously there. And in the hole lies the body of George Foster. Suddenly the hunt for an anonymous letter writer has turned into a hunt for a killer that takes the friends into the political world of Juniper Grove.
This book kept me riveted from the opening lines and gripped me until the closing lines. I was drawn into all the political intrigue as well as the details of the characters’ personal lives. The plot kept me guessing and moved very swiftly. I personally generally care less about trying to guess who committed the crime being investigated than in analyzing the path that the detective took to find the solution. This book surely didn’t disappoint! The path took many twists and turns as it followed Rachel’s efforts to help Julia learn the truth about what happened to her husband these last seven years, what drew him back to Juniper Grove, and who killed him.
I also found myself becoming invested in the individual characters, for example, hoping that someone would get back at the cruel newspaper editor, Jillian Newsom after seeing her harsh behavior towards Julia and Rachel. I also joined Rachel in wavering over the question of which individuals she can trust and which are enemies. When someone vandalizes Holly’s bakery, I felt almost as devastated as Holly at the damage and loss of good food on the eve of the famous Juniper Grove Farmer’s Market.
The book concludes its official description with the following sentences as the final paragraph: “This light, cozy mystery offers a clean read with a female amateur sleuth in a small-town setting. No foul language, sex, gore, or graphic scenes of any kind.” I appreciated that the author has created a very well- written novel while keeping within her Christian worldview. However, the book does not preach to readers in any sense of the word and does not stick to the formulaic method of a lot of Christian fiction I read while growing up.
Becky Doughty does a good job of narrating the audio edition of this book. She does a good job of enticing the reader to want to keep listening, using creative accents for different characters as we get drawn further as further into the plot.
I am so glad I happened to stumble across Death of a Dead Man. This is one of the best books I have read in a while. It grabbed me and kept me listening until the book was over. I highly recommend this to everyone and give it five stars!
To purchase this book for yourself, click here on Amazon.