cover image Foal Play

Foal Play

Kathryn O’Sullivan. Minotaur, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-02659-0

Smalltown hilarity buoys O’Sullivan’s charming debut, winner of Malice Domestic’s best traditional first novel competition. On a hot Fourth of July, Colleen McCabe, the fire chief of Corolla, N.C., goes to the scene of a burning house owned by cantankerous former school teacher Myrtle Crepe. Inside lie the remains of a charred female, whom everyone fears is Myrtle. Later, Colleen inspects another burned body, which washed up on the beach earlier in the day. Colleen knows better than to do some inconspicuous investigating, especially since her best friend and town sheriff, Bill Dorman, has given her a stern warning against it, but keeping her nose clean proves easier said than done. Readers will enjoy the quirky supporting cast—from Pinky Salvatore, the town’s closest thing to a criminal, to Little Bobby, Myrtle’s beleaguered only child—though some will hope the author will develop Colleen more in future installments. The Outer Banks setting, home to wild mustangs, adds to the appeal. (May)