cover image Deader Homes and Gardens: 
A Clare Malloy Mystery

Deader Homes and Gardens: A Clare Malloy Mystery

Joan Hess. Minotaur, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-36362-8

At the start of Hess’s snappy, sassy 18th Clare Malloy mystery (after 2008’s Mummy Dearest), Claire, who’s just returned from “a decidedly adventurous honeymoon in Egypt” with her new husband, deputy police chief Peter Rosen, realizes that her small apartment in central Farberville, Ark., isn’t big enough for her, Peter, and her 17-year-old daughter, Caron. On the outskirts of town, Clare discovers a roomy 19th-century house on a large lot that she immediately falls in love with. The abrupt disappearance of the real estate agent showing the house heralds a host of complications. The house’s late owner, Winston Martinson, died under mysterious circumstances, and now current owner Terry Kennedy, Winston’s dotty gay lover, has his doubts about selling. Terry eventually offers Clare a lease, but he suffers a fatal collapse before the deal can go through. A cast of eccentric supporting characters, including nursery owner Ethan Hollow and his hippie wife, Pandora Butterfly Saraswati, add local color. Agent: Dominick Abel. (Feb.)