cover image Meet Isabel Puddles

Meet Isabel Puddles

M.V. Byrne. Kensington, $15.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-4967-2831-9

Former hairdresser Isabel Puddles of Gull Harbor, Mich., the busy heroine of Byrne’s sprightly debut and series launch, supports herself through small moneymaking schemes such as selling home-baked pies and hand-knitted scarves. When 88-year-old Earl Jonasson dies, Isabel accepts the job offered by the owner of the local funeral parlor to tidy up Earl’s hair. While making Earl presentable for his sendoff, she discovers a nail in the wealthy farmer’s head. She promptly calls the Kentwater County sheriff to alert him to a murder case. Before leaving the funeral home, Isabel is already speculating on possible motives and the culprit’s identity. Her investigative technique hinges mainly on being in the right place to overhear the guilty talk about their crimes. Much of the narrative is filled with Isabel’s family history, descriptions of her neighbors and friends, and reveries on such topics as renewable energy and the habits of beavers. Fans of Garrison Keillor’s tales of Lake Wobegon will be enchanted. Others may want to take a pass. (Dec.)