Monday, May 2, 2016

HEARSE AND GARDEN by Kathleen Bridge


Publisher:     Berkley
Published:     May 3, 2016     
ISBN:        978-0425276594
Genre:      Cozy Mystery  
Format:     Print
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Life just hasn’t settled down for Meg Barrett after solving a murder not so many months ago.  She’s found the perfect cottage that with just a little renovation could be her dream home except the ownership is in dispute.  She had a bit of a relationship sort of starting, but her prospective beau is off sailing the seas with his three legged dog, Tripod.  And less than ethical business rival, Tara Gayle, is up to her usual tricks in their home decorating businesses.  Her once piece of … peace … is going to Sandringham.  No, not the Queen of England’s get-away but a replica out on Montauk, Long Island.  There, along with her friend Elle, who is distantly related to the family, Meg has a piece of the childhood she had and misses.  And just when things look like they might be levelling out a bit, she and Elle find a skeleton in a sealed room in the very cottage she’s renovating.  Who is the body in the sealed room and is the killer still around?  And, is he related to the person stalking Meg?

I really enjoyed Kathleen Bridge’s first book in her Hamptons Home & Garden mystery, Better Homes and Corpses.  Her newest, HEARSE AND GARDENS is a close second. Not quite as tight writing and while the descriptions of the various rooms and locations was interesting, it did not contribute all that much to the mystery or solving it.  I had a hard time keeping track of the characters and finally pulled out pen and paper and wrote them down only to find about 2/3 Meg had to do the same.  I often have this problem with Agatha Christie’s books – and I’m a huge fan of Christie – and use the old write down the characters trick with her books.

I mentioned this in my review of Better Homes and Corpses—that we have a heroine who is deaf and can lip read.  Aside from the one time Richard comes up on Meg there is little use of what could be a great addition to the story – Meg can lip read and while she does a bit of that, it isn’t really anything major. 

Tara Gayle is one of those characters you just love to hate.  We all have a Tara somewhere in our lives and it’s just so fun to see her get hers. 

Best of all is the addition of Jo – the 35 pound Maine Coon cat who insists on dinner at the table at 5.  And any cat people among us can definitely relate to the “klepto-kitty” antics to get back at the human who doesn’t understand who is in charge. 

Once again the location of the story in Montauk adds to the story – it’s not one of those places you often find a cozy despite how great the location is.  Bridge makes good use of the ocean front and small town atmosphere throughout the book.

Books 1 and 2 are stand alones and you do not have to read them in order.  There is enough back story not to read book 1 – but if you want a good mystery, it’s definitely where you want to start.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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