Death By Dumpster
by Karen Hanson Stuyck
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432831066
Date: 16 December 2015 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
This second Lauren Prescott Mystery, Death by Dumpster from Karen Hanson Stuyck, pits amateur sleuth Lauren against a determined killer set on murdering a frugal living guru. Her two daughters reappear and her youngest, Emily, decides to help find the killer. Lauren fearing for her daughter, finds herself facing an implacable killer.
Lauren Prescott, first introduced in Fit to Die, is now a writer for a Houston magazine and has been rebuilding her life after her ex-husband absconded with all their funds. A dentist, he also helped criminals avoid identification by the police, which resulted in his incarceration. Now on her own, Lauren has developed a successful career as a magazine writer and has just moved into a new two-bedroom apartment.
Most people like saving money, and Caroline Marshall, the Queen of Dumpster Diving, believes in living frugally. Lauren is working on an article featuring Caroline because she believes many readers would be interested in the guru's money saving tips. She has no inkling this will lead to three murders.
Lauren accompanies Caroline and her students on an expedition to delve in dumpsters for usable items including food. She also attends a dinner prepared from such finds, using home grown foods, or things already in home cupboards. Caroline lives her philosophy and claims she not only eats some of her finds, but has also furnished her home with dumpster finds.
At first, Laruen rejects Caroline's claims that someone wants to murder her. However, when one of Caroline's students dies from eating a poisoned dessert intended for Caroline, Lauren realizes she may be right. Caroline believes if Lauren helps her write a book about her life, she can convince the killer to stop for fear the book will provide incriminating evidence. Lauren soon learns many people hate Caroline including former students and employees.
Complicating matters, Lauren's two adult daughters move into her tiny apartment. Emily's announcement concerning her plan to investigate the killer, frightens Lauren. She will stop at nothing to keep her daughter safe. That forces her to find the killer.
For much of the novel, Caroline appears one dimensional, but later becomes a flesh and blood person the reader can care about. Lauren goes a bit overboard as a protective mother. The relationship between her and Paul O'Neal, her boss and romantic interest, is warm and satisfying as her relationship with her daughters. However, the eldest Katie appears somewhat childish and unwilling to accept adult responsibilities.
Stuyck provides an exciting climax, but overall the mystery seems contrived. Death by Dumpster is the second Lauren Prescott Mystery. The first, Fit to Die appeared in 2006 also from Five Star. Stuyck has another five mysteries as well.