by Jerrilyn Farmer
Series: Madeline Bean #1
Publication Date: May 31, 1998
Publisher: Avon Books
In the years before I started tracking my reading in the mid 2000’s I’d read this book several times, but it’s obviously been sitting on the shelf, neglected ever since, because I have no record of a review for it.
This came out in the heyday of the cozy mystery, before big publishing corrupted the sub-genre into a cash-cow, cookie-cutter formula. Madeline Bean and her partner Wesley own a catering company that’s hip with the Hollywood crowd, throwing parties for the rich and infamous. When their latest client is killed, Wesley’s old grudge with the man makes him look like the best suspect.
Farmer write a hell of a mystery. It’s fun, it’s cozy, it’s fast-paced and the dialog is witty, intelligent and engaging. These are characters one would choose to be friends with. And the Huntley family is diabolically dysfunctional in ways that are hard to imagine unless you watch a lot of entertainment news.
The plotting was fascinating. So many promising, legitimate possibilities and so many red herrings. The climax is dramatic but well done – not overplayed – and the murderer was a surprise.
I enjoyed every book in this series, until it was cut short for reasons never explained; I’ve always been disappointed that it ended long before its time, but thankful that I have them all on my shelves to revisit.
I read this for the Halloween Square on my 2020 Halloween Bingo card.