Comedy and compassion fuel a fine new mystery series

Murder on Pea Pike, by Jean Harrington. Camel Press. 264 pages. Trade paperback $15.95.

Jean Harrington’s new “Listed and Lethal” mystery series shares some features with her earlier, five-part “Murders by Design” mystery series (recently reprinted by Harlequin). The main similarity is that the protagonist in each series is a professional woman who is teamed up with a law enforcement officer. That is, teamed up romantically and unable to avoid being involved in his investigations.  

While the earlier character, Deva Dunne, lived and worked the interior design trade in upscale Naples, Florida, Honey Ingersoll is a real estate agent in rural, small town Arkansas. Differences in education and social class also distinguish the two protagonists.

As she pursues a real estate deal on the outskirts of Eureka Falls, chances upon the corpse of an attractive, flashy young woman whom she had seen at Ridley’s Real Estate just recently. Though Tallulah Bixby is dressed to kill, someone got to her first.

Soon after, the owner of property in the same neighborhood as Honey’s corpse discovery is also found murdered. You guessed it – discovered by Honey. Hmm. She might be a suspect, except for the fact that she is the narrator. Speaking of discoveries, Honey finds a couple of uncut diamonds near the crime scene.

The novel’s two main centers of interest are the murders and Honey’s love life. With respect to the murders, there seems to be an orchestrated buying-up of properties in the area surrounding the murders, suggesting the need to keep the purchases secret. Or maybe it’s the rumors concerning the diamonds lying about. Murder is one way of shutting someone up. When readers find out that a major casino project is being planned, they may surmise that some in the town are against it.

Honey’s love life? Up until now, a series of poor choices. But what’s an attention-needy, somewhat insecure girl to do? These days, Honey is idealizing her attractive boss, Sam Ridley, who is among those showing an interest in those rundown properties. Can he possibly be on Honey’s suspect list? She has imagined getting a dazzling kiss from him for a long time. Honey has been an invaluable employee, but he has plenty of cause to worry about her recent strange behavior. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the August 23, 2017 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the August 24 Naples, Bonita Springs, Collier Count, and Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Murder on Pea Pike

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