cover image Death of a Neighborhood Scrooge: A Jaine Austen Mystery

Death of a Neighborhood Scrooge: A Jaine Austen Mystery

Laura Levine. Kensington, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-0849-6

At the start of Levine’s exemplary 16th Jaine Austen mystery (after 2017’s Death of a Bachelorette), Jaine, the freelance writer with a big appetite, agrees to house-sit a Bel Air mansion with her shoe salesman friend, Lance, during the Christmas season. When her cat, Prozac, manages to escape to the house next door, Jaine meets Scotty Parker, a former child actor who has grown into an unlikable cheapskate with a knack for blackmailing. On Christmas Day, Scotty is found bludgeoned with a frozen chocolate yule log, and Jaine is a suspect. Determined to prove her innocence, she does some sleuthing on her own. The long list of suspects, including the victim’s money-hungry ex-wife and a neighbor with extreme anger management issues, will keep readers guessing as Jaine attempts to identify the killer. Meanwhile, Lance creates an online dating profile for Jaine, which results in several laugh-out-loud incidents and nicely fleshes out Jaine’s character. This is a thoroughly enjoyable cozy with just the right balance of crime, humor, and holiday spirit. Agent: Evan Marshall, Evan Marshall Agency. (Oct.)