Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dread On Arrival - Claudia Bishop

Dread On Arrival
A Hemlock Falls Mystery
Claudia Bishop
Berkley Prime Crime
The little village of Hemlock Falls is beginning to change and Sarah “Quill” Quilliam-McHale doesn’t really like it.  Quill has run the local Inn for many years, with her sister, Meg, doing chef duty in the kitchen.  They’re starting to see some real success, but it’s come at a price.  The influx of tourists has started driving a demand for fancy upgrades to long-standing businesses and is starting to foster a sense of competition throughout the village that may not be healthy.  Of course, other Chamber Of Commerce types think the upscaling of Hemlock Falls is the best thing to happen in years. 
The latest arrival is a reality TV show called Your Ancestor’s Attic.  The mellifluous host, Edmund Tree, will be valuing the various items brought in by locals, who will then appear on his show.  This sends most inhabitants searching through attics and basements, looking for their big opportunity.  Also arriving (uninvited) is Belter Barcini, the host of Pawn-O-Rama, looking to move his show from last place to something a little higher in the ratings.  Belter causes a near riot at the first day of auditions.  The whole thing results in a “Slap Down” between Tree and Barcini, to be broadcast, of course.  This slapping down will take the form of a cook-off, since fisticuffs are not Tree’s strong suit.  During the tasting, one host drops dead, making for what will clearly be a ratings bonanza.
While this is the latest in a long-running series, new readers will have no problems getting started here.  There are lots of small town politics and outsize personalities, allowing the reader to get acquainted with each person.  The author kindly includes a Cast Of Characters at the front, for easy reference.  Each chapter is preceded by a recipe for various items offered by either the Inn, or the nearby culinary academy.  My main complaint is that the murder itself – and thus, the mystery – occurs roughly two-thirds of the way through the book, leaving not much time for investigating or deducing.  To the author’s immense credit, though, I was entertained enough by the many characters that I didn’t even realize this fact until quite late.  For those looking for a small town cozy, Hemlock Falls is a fine destination.
Rating: 6
April 2012
ISBN# 978-0-425-14707-5 (paperback)


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