One of the really nice things about anthologies is reading stories/novellas/novels by a smattering of authors. I recently read Happy Homicides 4: Fall Into Crime, in which I was able to enjoy some of my tried-and-true authors’ fall/autumn Cozies as well as finally read a Pecan Bayou Cozy, because the author, Teresa Trent, is now on my favorite authors list!
Right after I read Falling for Murder in that anthology, I read A Dash of Murder, the first in Teresa Trent‘s Pecan Bayou Mystery Series. This is a Halloween Cozy which reminds me quite a bit of Jill Churchill’s Jane Jeffrys series and Kate Borden’s Peggy Jean Turner Mystery Series. They remind me of the other two series in the ease of Trent’s writing style and the holiday setting. (I found out that Trent is an author who sets a lot of her Cozies during the holidays. Yay!) Recently, it has been a “plus” for me when I don’t have to use my Kindle’s dictionary. (I am happy to say that the vocabulary in this Cozy included words I am familiar with. I know this may sound like an odd statement to a lot of you, but I wonder why some authors feel the need to throw in “impressive” words!)
In this Halloween Cozy, Trent includes a lot of Halloween elements. The plot involves Betsy’s Aunt Maggie doing a local TV station’s Halloween ghost-busting show at the old, abandoned Tuberculosis hospital. Creepy Halloween fare!
Betsy has a seven year old son (Zach)) who she is raising on her own. Her husband left the house one day while Betsy was pregnant with Zach, and he simply never returned. Betsy supports Zack and herself by writing the Helpful Hinter, a column for the Pecan Bayou Gazette. She has been collecting household hints her entire life, so this seemed like an ideal (paying!) occupation. Also, Betsy has written a household hints book and she does efficiency-evaluations.
I’ve already mentioned Betsy’s Aunt Maggie. She is a member of the Pecan Bayou Paranormal Society, of which there are three active members. Unfortunately for Betsy, one of the members is a snowbird who only lives in Pecan Bayou between Thanksgiving and Memorial Day, which means that Betsy fills in for her from time to time, even though she’s not a paranormal enthusiast.
Aunt Maggie’s son, Danny, has Down Syndrome, as does Teresa Trent’s son. I love that Danny is an integral character in the series! Brava, Teresa Trent!
You get a sense of a quaint, Cozy town when you read this mystery. The restaurant owner is Zach’s Scout leader, Dr. Mac is the physician everyone sees, Howard is the other member of the Pecan Bayou Paranormal Society (who happens to have his PhD in paranormal psychology, Stanley is the local NUTV station’s director, and Art is the county coroner who plays poker with Betsy’s dad, who is the sheriff.
Of course, a corpse is found – and plenty of people had reasons to not like this person. I was totally surprised to find out whodunit, and am not quite sure if there were clues that I had missed, or not.
As I said earlier, I have added Teresa Trent to my favorite authors list. This Cozy was a short, fun, quick Halloween read – and it even includes recipes and helpful hints!
If you’re interested in reading more of these brief revisits of some of the more popular Cozy Mystery Series that I’ve written in the past, you can find them at the Most Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my site.