cover image Goose in the Pond

Goose in the Pond

Earlene Fowler / Author Berkley Publishing Group $21.95 (320p)

The small town of San Celina, Calif., provides the backdrop for this unremarkable tale, the latest appearance of Benni Harper (following Kansas Troubles). Benni, curator of the local folk art museum, discovers the body of librarian Nora Cooper floating in a pond just as the town is preparing for a storytelling festival. Despite the warnings of her new husband, macho police chief Gabe Ortiz, Benni can't resist getting involved. Benni juggles the organization of the festival with some unsubtle investigation as she copes with personal challenges posed by the sudden appearances of Gabe's teenage son, Sam, and her own flirtatious cousin, Rita, not to mention daily phone calls from her grandmother. Suspects in this drawn-out tale include Nora's brother, Nick; her almost ex-husband, Roy; and Roy's girlfriend, Grace. A disturbing tip from a local newspaperman suggests that Nora had discovered some unsavory gossip, providing another possible motive for her murder. Benni's amateur detecting leads her into some close calls before the plot drones to a predictable conclusion. (May)