by Sandra Murphy
Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.
In her third Bella Kowalski Mystery, author Sue McGinty treads an area of the California Central Coast she knows well. Although she has changed the names of regional landmarks (to protect the innocent?), the cover art shows the distinctive features of Morro Rock. Familiar with local color and concerns, McGinty weaves them into the plot, including a controversial sewage system haunting the coastal community for years.
Bella is an ex-nun, her husband Mike is an ex-Chicago cop. Bella now works for the local paper as the obit editor and Mike has a septic service business. These seniors aren't beyond a romantic get-away, especially now that Bella's mother has moved in. Their favorite destination is the Mariposa Inn, but they discover it has fallen on hard times. Bella notes a strange recognition pass between the check-in clerk and her husband, but he denies knowing the man.
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When the clerk is found dead the next morning, Mike tells the police he doesn't know the man. Later, he confesses to Bella that the victim was a crooked cop he knew on the force. Then she spies him passing a red notebook to a woman. Ten days later he has packed his clothes and split. The cryptic note he leaves behind tells her not to contact law enforcement. Keeping her in the dark is his way of protecting her.
Does Bella follow his instructions? Nope. Instead, she allows her imagination to run wild. Was her husband kidnapped? Did he run off with the strange woman? And why is his notebook in the mansion of an elderly Detroit mobster?
Convinced the notebook holds clues to her husband's disappearance, this ex-nun is not above a little breaking and entering. She barely escapes getting apprehended. But Bella is not one to throw in the towel and continues in her pursuit of the truth.
Mixing humor with clues, murders and a ghost or two, McGinty opens her world and Bella's for our entertainment.
To enter to win a copy of Murder in Mariposa, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Mariposa,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 27, 2014. U.S. residents only.