cover image HOT PINK FARMHOUSE: A Berger & Mitry Mystery

HOT PINK FARMHOUSE: A Berger & Mitry Mystery

David Handler, . . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne, $23.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-312-28015-4

Edgar winner Handler brings back odd couple Desiree "Des" Mitry and Mitch Berger for a second enjoyable round of murder and mayhem (after 2001's The Cold Blue Blood) in the normally peaceful environs of coastal Dorset, Conn. Mitch, a New York City film critic and author of two movie reference books, is spending his first autumn on Big Sister, a private island off Dorset. Des, black, beautiful and a former homicide investigator for the Connecticut state police, has opted for such mundane duties as directing traffic, allowing her to pursue art classes at the famed Dorset Academy. Both get caught up in a squabble that pits pro-development locals against those who want Dorset to remain as it is. They also get trapped in the orbit of eccentric sculptor Wendell "Hangtown" Frye, his two wildly different daughters and murder. Handler's mix of smalltown pleasures and developers who plot to destroy the setting that preserves those pleasures is a familiar one. Nonetheless, the author's skill at depicting everyone from young children to aging adults and investing his characters with delightful quirks or grievous flaws makes this a superior read. The romance between Des and Mitch, an ill-kept secret in tiny Dorset, and bits of film trivia woven smoothly into the narrative add zest. (Nov. 11)

FYI:The Mystery Booksellers Association nominated The Cold Blue Blood for a Dilys Award as one "the most fun to sell" books of the year.