Saturday, October 7, 2023

What's Scary Is If You Don't Read Trick or Treat Murder by Leslie Meier

Scott D. Parker

As I wrote last October, if there’s a holiday and you want to read a mystery featuring that holiday, Leslie Meier has you covered.

Starting in 1991, Meier has written 36 mysteries starring Lucy Stone, a mom, wife, and citizen of Tinker’s Cove, Maine. The first book I read, Back to School Murder (the 4th overall), Lucy fills in at the local newspaper and that’s what gets the crime on her radar. Trick or Treat Murder (1996) is the third book, but first of her Halloween stories and I reckoned I might as well start there.

It’s Almost All a Domestic Story…

A series is nothing if you don’t like the main character, and Lucy Stone is one of the most likable characters in mystery fiction. There were whole chapters where she baked cupcakes, helped her kids with Halloween costumes for the big Halloween party, and city council meetings about the historical society and renovations. It is super charming.

It’s domesticity, and it’s nice to be able to step into Tinker’s Cove and just forget about real life for a time. Even when there’s a bad car accident that has no bearing on the mystery, I felt for the victim as well as the driver.

…But There is a Mystery

There have been a series of arson events in the area. The police don’t have any good leads and the potential suspects they’ve got their eye on don’t pan out.

Unlike Back to School Murder, here, Lucy doesn’t actively work on the case. It’s kind of a low simmer. If you’re a writer, you know that even when you are not writing, you are thinking about your story. Same thing applies with Lucy. She asks a few questions, does some research, and keeps coming at the crimes from different angles.

When the villain is finally revealed, Lucy is put into some serious peril. I’m far from a cozy mystery expert, but in the ones I’ve read, there’s not a lot of dire threats. Not so this one. It made for a nice and dramatic ending.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series as literary comfort food. Specifically there’s not a dang thing wrong with it. Same is true for Leslie Meier’s Lucy Stone books. Love them. Love Lucy as a character and Tinker’s Cove as a location. And I will always read these books. There’s still time in October to get in one of her three Halloween books.

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