cover image Fear of Frying

Fear of Frying

Jill Churchill, Janice Young Brooks. William Morrow & Company, $22 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97324-8

The search for a murder victim who turns up safe and sound after being bashed with a frying pan livens up a weekend in the Wisconsin woods for suburban Chicago housewife and amateur sleuth Jane Jeffrey and her best pal, Shelley Nowack, in Jane's ninth adventure (after War and Peas). The duo are on a fact-finding mission with members of the school board and town council--all well-drawn, distinctive characters in Churchill's hands--to investigate a summer camp for the children of their town. The troubles start their first evening at camp when Jane and Shelley return to the picnic area after the cookout to look for a missing watch. There, next to the fire pit, lies the body of their neighbor, prosperous car dealer Sam Claypool. But the corpse disappears by the time the sheriff arrives. Later, when Sam is found alive and well back at the lodge, the two women, along with their neighbors, begin to wonder if they were hallucinating. Their sanity is vindicated the next day when a very dead Sam turns up, which leaves only two problems: Who was the man they all believed was Sam Claypool? Who among the group is a murderer? While the mystery's solution will be more than obvious to some readers, Jane and Shelley are a lively pair, and Agatha and Macavity Award winner Churchill's evocation of their damp weekend at camp will speak to anyone who has ever spent a few days slogging around in rain-soaked woods. (Nov.)