I have been following this series since the first book was released. Check out my previous reviews: Sketch a Falling Star - Book 3 (click here), To Sketch a Thief - book 2 (click here), Sketch Me If You Can - book 1 (click here), plus, I was also honored to interview Sharon Pape (click here). Next up, we are headed to the rural parts of New York for some dirty competition in the farm and nursery business.
Copyright: December 2013 (Penguin/Intermix) 260 pgs
Series: 4th in A Portrait of Crime Mysteries
Sensuality: some kissing
Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Private Investigator, Paranormal Cozy
Main Characters: Aurora (Rory) McCain, former police sketch-artist turned PI
Setting: Modern day, Suffolk County New York
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review (NetGalley)
Rory is hired by Harper Farms owner, Gil Harper, to investigate who is leaking business ideas and plans to the competition and sabotaging the farm in various ways that are impacting the profitability of the business. Before Rory can even make it to her car after being hired, she stumbles onto the dead body of Harper's accountant. Her job quickly gets expanded to solve the murder too, including to investigate family members. Sub-plots include Rory's parents selling the family home which is difficult for Rory, Rory's aunt Helen fixes her up with a wonderful doctor...and Zeke can't get over his 1800s strict dating rules, and ghost-whisperer Eloise is getting messages for Rory--but who on the other side is it and why?
Rory is progressing as a private investigator and controlling her anger flares at her resident ghost, Zeke. Zeke is also a great side-kick with his law enforcement background, but his 1800s gender-role ideas get old fast when it comes to Rory even kissing a guy. He still is overprotective of Rory as though a woman can't be a PI without a guy to keep her safe. Aunt Helene, the over-the-top actress in the family, plays cupid in this book. Leah, Rory friend on the police force, has more of a presence in this story and I enjoy her more and more each time. Eloise, the elderly mother of a neighbor and ghost-whisperer returns and remains a kooky delight. Aaron, the pediatrician that Aunt Helen sets Rory up with was ideal-not a cop, fun, and kind. It will be interesting to see how Rory in a relationship works out while living with the old-fashioned Marshal's ghost.
The story takes place mostly in a rural part of New York in the farming sections. The plot is on par for a cozy mystery, plenty of suspects in the dysfunctional Harper family. I have to admit, I did not suspect the killer at all, so that was a surprise. I appreciated that Rory makes it through the climax and danger without Zeke rescuing her (not that he will admit she doesn't need him by her side.) The wrap-up nicely closes the subplots.
Another solid cozy mystery with a dash of ghosts, varied and interesting characters, and a sprinkling of humor. The paranormal elements consist of ghosts thus far (Zeke's ghost and Eloise communicating with ghosts) but is not presented in a scary or creepy way, rather to flavor the stories. Well done cozy with an entertaining paranormal element.
Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list.