Mystery Debut of the Month | March 2013

paging Mystery Debut of the Month | March 2013OrangeReviewStar Mystery Debut of the Month | March 2013Bonner, Brynn. Paging the Dead: A Family History Mystery. Gallery: S & S. Mar. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781451661866. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781451661880. M

Sophie and her business partner, Esme, have a family history research business, staying gainfully employed by exploring family trees and then arranging the results in scrapbooks for people who are curious about their backgrounds. When one of their clients, the difficult and powerful Dorothy Pritchett Porter, is strangled to death, the small North Carolina town is stunned. While authorities investigate, Sophie and Esme continue working on Dorothy’s project in preparation for her memorial service. While many are suspicious of Dorothy’s estranged husband, there are plenty of other suspects: her sister, townsfolk with grudges, a mysterious man who might be a relative, and even her closest friend. Finally, Sophie and Esme stumble over an extra branch in Dorothy’s family tree that points the way. ­VERDICT Bonner successfully combines an intriguing cast with the promise of an unfolding romance and a spritz of the paranormal in her winning cozy debut. Consider pairing with titles by Katheen Ernst and Jennifer Chiaverini for historical context and tone. Sure also to be popular with fans of NBC’s popular genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are? [See Prepub Alert, 10/08/12.]

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