cover image Aunt Dimity & the Lost Prince

Aunt Dimity & the Lost Prince

Nancy Atherton. Viking, $25.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-670-02668-5

Atherton's spritely 18th paranormal cosy starring Lori Shepherd (after 2012's Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch) is an excellent jumping-on point for newcomers. Shepherd, an American expat living in the Cotswolds, has her hands full as "wife, mother, community volunteer, busybody-in-training, and chairwoman" of a nonprofit trust. Despite all this, Shepherd finds time to play sleuth, aided by the spirit of her Aunt Dimity Westwood, who fills the blank pages of a journal with her thoughts. This time, Aunt Dimity assists Lori and her family as they arrive at Skeaping Manor, a stately-home-turned museum complete with mummies and shrunken heads. While there, Lori is intrigued by a young child, Daisy Pickering, daughter of the manor's cleaning woman, who identifies a silver piece as a saltcellar. The item disappears, as do the Pickerings, and Lori becomes convinced that these events are linked with Daisy's claims that the saltcellar belonged to a lost Russian prince. Atherton's assured prose allows readers to buy into the offbeat concept for a dead assistant investigator, and things play out in traditional cosy fashion. (May)