Death of an Irish Diva by Mollie Cox Bryan is the third in the Cumberland Creek series featuring a small town's residents (and scrapbookers) dealing with a dance teacher's death and one backyard's historical bones (February 4, 2014).
Okay, okay so we’ve all been waiting for the third book in the fabulous Cumberland Creek mystery series and the wait is finally over. Writer and sometime newspaper reporter Annie Chamovitz is caught up in the investigation of the death of Emily McGlashen, an international champion and renowned teacher of Irish Dance.
Annie’s good friend and fellow scrapbooker Vera Matthews quickly becomes the main suspect for Emily’s murder. Bad enough that Vera’s personal life has been a train wreck since her marriage crumbled to pieces, and her ex-husband doesn’t seem to have much time for or interest in their adorable three year old daughter. As the town’s long standing ballet teacher, Vera has been enmeshed in a bitter rivalry with the victim, who stole students from Vera by seriously belittling ballet as an archaic dance form. It certainly doesn’t help that Vera’s bright red purse is found at the scene of the crime.
Annie wants to help prove her friend is innocent and the lead detective, Adam Bryant, certainly wants Annie’s assistance. But things are complicated for the very-married Annie, because she and the detective are toying with a mutual attraction that could destroy Annie’s life.
Annie decides that helping Vera must come ahead of dealing with her own potential problem. From Bryant’s car she calls her husband, Mike, to tell him that she will be at the police station for a while. Mike isn’t thrilled but understands.
Before they left the car, Annie told Bryant what Mike had said. He looked back at her with a pained expression.
“I know you care about him,” she said. “So do I. Believe it or not. Let’s keep this arrangement platonic and professional. If you can’t do that, I won’t help you.”
“I mean it. Don’t push me,” she said, glaring.
He leaned back into his seat, then fumbled with the door.
“It’s your call, Annie, all of it.”
Vera’s mother, Beatrice, recently decided to install a swimming pool in her back yard, but the contractor digging the hole came across some old bones and could go no further. So the Virginia Department of Historic Resources begins to carefully excavate the site and, in short order, they discover far more than bones.
“Ho!” One of the men called out. “I found something here.” He pulled out a box, covered with earth. He brushed it off carefully. Everybody stilled. “Tin,” he said. “And there’s a bigger box under it, or something. Maybe a trunk.”
While she is nearly consumed by the dread that her daughter Vera will be arrested for the murder of Emily McGlashen, Beatrice is comforted when she discovers that one of the artifacts is a Civil-war era scrapbook belonging to the McGlashen family. Could the story it tells relate to Emily’s murder? Would it be proof enough to clear Vera of suspicion once and for all? Instead of turning it over to the State of Virginia, Beatrice shares it with the scrapbookers in hopes of linking the past to the present.
Then, Annie discovers that Emily has an affiliation with a local adoption agency whose clients seem to be obsessed with ethnic purity. The lab associated with the agency is controlled rigorously to give clients precisely what they are looking for in a child. Can the inflexible behavior of the agency staff have anything to do with Emily’s murder?
Once again Mollie Cox Bryan has returned the delightful residents of Cumberland Creek for our reading pleasure, and they are joined by some extremely thought-provoking outsiders who have some strange ideas. I promise that you will love this book as much as I did.
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Twice short-listed for Best American Mystery Stories, Terrie Farley Moran’s cozy mystery, Well Read, Then Dead will be released by Berkley Prime Crime in August, 2014. She blogs amid the grand banter of the Women of Mystery.