Little Shop of Homicide: A Devereaux's Dime Store Mystery
by Denise Swanson
Review by Mel Jacob
Signet Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451236180
Date: 06 March 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The first in a new series for Denise Swanson, Little Shop of Horrors focuses on a budding romance and lust between the principals when a murder brings them together. Jake Del Vecchio, a U.S. Marshal, and Devereaux Sinclair, owner of the Shadow Bend Dime Store, work to clear her of a possible murder charge in the death of her former flame's new fiancée. The instant attraction between them complicates their efforts.
A room service waiter found the victim handcuffed to a bed with a champagne bottle stuffed down her throat. A five-and-a-half-inch metal-tipped stiletto heel was stuck in her heart. The police noted a gift basket Dev had made for the victim, which had contained the champagne at the murder scene.
The police detective in charge of the investigation has a grudge against Dev. Her former boss stole money from clients including the detective. The loss of the detective's pension funds fuels his effort to prove Dev guilty no matter what. She had left the firm before the Ponzi scheme was exposed and had had no direct involvement in it.
Dev's long-time, good friends, Boone and Poppy help in the investigation. Boone also doubles as her lawyer while Poppy is the daughter of the police chief and owner of a local bar. Poppy has wired her place and collects all the local gossip and maneuvering among the citizens of Shadow Bend, Missouri.
Suspects abound from Noah, the old flame, the mayor, most eligible women in town with eyes for Noah, his society mother, and even someone from the fiancée's past life. She had guarded her privacy and let no one into her home unless she is present. Her mysterious past may hold the key to solving the murder.
Cozy readers who like romance will enjoy the novel, which is more of romantic suspense than straight murder mystery. Clues to the murder gradually emerge and lead to an exciting climax. Language is mild and no overt sex occurs. Swanson has written another successful series, the Scumble River Mysteries.