Alma Fritchley, Author CHICKEN SHACKAlma Fritchley

Letty Campbell is perhaps the only chicken farmer/sleuth in the business. Almost certainly she is mystery fiction's only vegetarian/lesbian/chicken farmer/sleuth. Happily, the plucky Yorkshire lass is in her usual engaging form in her fourth outing, following 1999's Chicken Out. There are plenty of changes going on in Letty's busy life, from disposing of land inherited from a neighbor, to her mother's engagement to a wealthy Scottish colonel, to an unexpected boarder and a new love interest. Her neighbor's farmland (now hers) attracts the interest of high-octane American businesswoman Chris Crozier, who wants to build a health and beauty spa on it. Her mother's fiancé's family has some odd criminal offshoots, and Letty ends up with some very unlikely allies when her inveterate curiosity leads her into danger. As she carves out a place for herself in the village of Calderton, Letty can't help winning friends with her decency and helpfulness. While Fritchley offers nicely drawn eccentric characters and the kind of humor one hopes for in a good cozy, she offsets it with grittier scenes more common to harder-edged stories. And Fritchley gets high marks for producing some exceptionally fine passages about car chases and wrecks. With proper marketing muscle behind it, this is a series with potential to go well beyond its obvious niche audience. (Mar. 15)

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 10/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
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