DEATH OF A NEIGHBORHOOD WITCH (A Jaine Austen Mystery) by Laura Levine
Hardcover, 304 pagesPublished September 1st 2012 by Kensington Books
Genre: cozy mystery
Rating: 5 stars
Halloween is just around the corner, and between cauldrons of candy and a deliciously cute new neighbour, Jaine Austen is struggling to resist her sweet tooth. But this year, her once humdrum neighbourhood seems to be handing out more tricks than treats...When her faithful feline Prozac unwittingly scares to death a parakeet belonging to the neighbourhood's resident curmudgeon, Jaine finds herself knee-deep in toil and trouble. The cantankerous Hollywood has-been once played the part of Cryptessa Muldoon, television's fourth most famous monster mom. Now a bitter, paranoid old dame, Cryptessa spends her days making enemies with everyone on the street, and accidental bird killer Jaine is no exception. So when the ornery D-lister is murdered with her own Do Not Trespass sign on Halloween night, the neighbourhood fills with relief - and possible culprits. With a killer on the loose, Jaine hardly has time to fall under the spell of her yummy new neighbour Peter. As the prime suspect, she summons her sleuthing skills to clear her name and soon discovers that everyone has a few skeletons in their closets - and the motives for murder are endless. Could it have been Cryptessa's next door neighbours, the barracuda husband and wife realtors whose landscaping Cryptessa had bulldozed? Or the seemingly sweet old lady whose beloved dog was the object of Cryptessa's wrath? Or perhaps the crotchety actress was done in by her own nephew in a desperate attempt to get his hands on her money? As the masks come off, Jaine's search for sweet justice turns up more questions than answers. And just when she thought nothing could be scarier than her run-in with a tortuous Tummy Tamer, she closes in on the killer and learns the true meaning of grave danger...
I voraciously devoured this cozy mystery novel by comedy writer Laura Levine! I absolutely loved it, consumed it in just a couple of sittings, and wholeheartedly recommend it not only as a seasonal reading, but also as an excellent starting point to experience Levine's witty and humorous writing style. This is, in fact, the book number eleven in The Jaine Austen Mystery series, each installment a charming vignette portraying our junk-food addicted, cooking impaired, hopelessly romantic heroine, Jaine, involved in some ghastly situation. Utterly endearing!
Cozy it may be, but the mystery isn't any less enthralling, thanks also to the vivid and warm characterization of a splendid cast of characters, each one of them popping out of the pages with their unique quirks and flaws. All sprinkled with a light romance that was as intriguing as the murder mystery itself, and flavored with a generous dose of humor that had me laughing out loud at very page.
Narrated from the heroine's self deprecating point of view, hilarious dialogues and comic situations are strung together smoothly and merrily and definitely earned Laura Levine a well-deserved place in my list of must-read authors.