Murder in a Basket: An India Hayes Mystery
by Amanda Flower
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432825676
Date: 01 February 2012
This second India Hayes Mystery, Murder in a Basket, is set on the Martin College campus in northeastern Ohio during a festival celebrating the Stripling, Ohio, Founders' Day. At the craft festal, India discovers the basket maker in the next booth has been murdered. The woman is the mother of student who works in the campus library and has a crush on India. Aware of her efforts that solved a murder last summer, he pleads with her to solve his mother's murder.
The murder brings India into contact again with the handsome Detective Mains, a former beau of her sister Carmen. He warns her to let the police do their job and not to investigate the murder. Despite her attraction to him, she refuses to listen and continues her efforts to solve the murder.
Carmen intimidates India while her parents protest civic issues and march in parades to her embarrassment. She loves them all anyway. She enjoys her work as a reference librarian, but finds murder an irresistible attraction.
Most people like Tess, the basket maker, but she has a few enemies including Celeste Berwyck, once Tess' husband's fiancée. Tess also has custody of Zacherus, a dog with a two million dollar trust fund left by her uncle. The college provost, Sam Lapcheck, her brother, also wants part of the money for the college; however, Tess plans to donate most of it to a charity and to the artists' coop of which she is a member.
Some readers may wonder at India for allowing her elderly Irish landlady Ina to participate in her investigation, but Ina proves surprisingly astute and helpful. Some things they might question such as why the police failed to discover a vital clue in Tess' home or the logistics in the climax, but overall the novel works and most won't notice the minor flaws.
Cozy readers will enjoy the read. There is no offensive language or overt violence and the humor is mild. Astute readers will identify the murderer, but fairly well along in the story. The potential romance with Mains builds in small increments and readers can look forward to more in future India Hayes Mysteries.