Murder at the Mansion: A Victorian Village Mystery

Sheila Connolly. Minotaur, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-13586-5

In this amiable if unsuspenseful series launch from Connolly (Many a Twist and five other County Cork mysteries), Baltimore hospitality manager Kate Hamilton loses her job at a boutique hotel being acquired by a Japanese conglomerate at the same time an old friend begs for help saving Asheboro, Md., where they grew up. Unremarkable Asheboro has been left nearly bankrupt after the town council purchased a long-empty local mansion in a deal gone sour. Kate has painful memories of both the mansion and Cordelia “Cordy” Walker, the onetime high-school bully who orchestrated the failed plan to turn the opulent Victorian house into a hotel, but the challenge inspires her. Exploring the home with hopes of finding out more about its original owner, Kate discovers Cordy’s bloody corpse. As she sets out to solve Cordy’s murder, Kate devises a plan to reinvent the town as a working Victorian village. The town council’s cluelessness and other implausibilities won’t bother cozy fans, who will enjoy Connolly’s characteristically warm treatment of small-town life. [em]Agent: Jessica Faust, BookEnds. (June) [/em]