C is for Corpse

c is for corpse

C is for Corpse (Kinsey Millhone #3) by Sue Grafton

Thoughts Before Reading:

I love my mysteries to challenge me, I love it when an author has completely bamboozled me. The truth being there the whole time, but I was too busy following a red herring to figure it out.

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Now if a book cannot surprise me, they must bring my admiration instead through their amazing characters.

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This book falls into the second category.

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In this book I figured out very quickly who the murderer was, but I didn’t care. I liked Kinsey Millhone and I so enjoyed these writings of Grafton that I continued reading all the way to X.

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Plot Synopsis:

So in this book, Kinsey is still recovering from the events that occurred in B is for Burglar. Part of her physical therapy and improvement is going to gym and working on her arm.

One day she meets a young man in his ’20s, Bobby Callahan. Bobby was in a horrible accident; being covered in scars, and his face and body misshaped. He tells Kinsey that he doesn’t remember anything that happened in that time period. However, he does have this feeling of urgency that he knew something and someone was after him. He believes the car accident was an attempt on his life.

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He and Kinsey become friends and he hires her to investigate, doing a retrograde crime with very little to go on.

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Kinsey begins and meets his family; a stepsister who is a drug addict, anorexic, and probably has a ton of other issues;

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a stepfather that doesn’t know how to father and is bland;

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and his mother, a real powerhouse but also control freak.

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

Three days later Bobby is dead.

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Split on whether accident or suicide, Kinsey becomes even more intent on searching for the murderer and to bring justice to Bobby.

avenged

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Thoughts After Reading

*Contains Spoilers*

So I thought this was well written, but was really sad.

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I loved Bobby. I hate when authors introduce such great characters but then kill them off. Lillian Jackson Braun is another writer that always seems to do that. They just love breaking our hearts.

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I also thought that Kinsey was a little slow on the ball here. If we know the woman who was having an affair with Bobby’s secret, it being that she and her lover killed her previous husband; hid it to look like a burglary, and he is now threatening to expose the gun used with her fingerprints: well then, I think it is safe to assume that as she remarried, she probably married her lover of the time.

duh

And as that lover is her husband, then you shouldn’t trust the husband.

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I still enjoyed the book though and think it is a great read.

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For more Kinsey Millhone mysteries, go to B is for Burglar

For more mysteries with female private investigators, go to Snagged

For more mysteries with female private investigators, go to  A Study in Scarlet

For more mysteries involving mysterious car accidents, go to Cape May Court House: A Death in the Night

Plum Pudding Murder

Ready for our next Christmas mystery?

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Me too!

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Okay!

Plumpuddingmurder

Plum Pudding Murder (Hannah Swensen Mystery #12) by Joanne Fluke

*Contains Spoilers*

So the first thing I notice in this book is in her acknowledgements, she thanks:

Jill Saxton for correcting my Minnesota mistakes

Joanne Fluke is from Minnesota, how could she be getting it wrong?

weird

So the beginning of this book actually is one of the strongest. We see it from the point of view of Larry Jaeger, and of course we know right away he is a major jerk.

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He has come back to Lake Eden to swindle as many investors as he can. The biggest investor is his fiancé Courtney, but even she doesn’t know what he’s doing or how much money he has squirreled away.

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He has everything closed up and ready to shut down for the night. All he has to do is wait for Hannah Swenson to pick up her check for the cookies and such that he is selling at his Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot. As he waits for Hannah and Norman to come, he hears something. He thinks it is Hannah, but he is dead wrong. Instead someone charges in and kills him “for what he has done.”

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One Day Earlier

In The Cookie Jar, Hannah and Lisa are decorating for Christmas when Hannah spurts out another one of her random factoid, this time that shellac was originally made from female insects. Now this needs to stop.

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I know you are trying to make her sound educated and intelligent, but none of these factoids ever sound like real conversations. They are just out of nowhere with Hannah being some kind of “I am supreme knowledge woman” and everyone just fascinated for the slightest bauble coming out of her mouth. Just no. NO MORE!!! It’s boring and stupid.

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Delores, Hannah’s mother, comes in to talk with her about her best friend, and business partner, Carrie Rhodes (Norman’s mom). Delores and Carrie were supposed to take a class together about running a small business, but all Carrie seems to do is be busy lately.

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She wants Hannah’s help to find out why, along with her coming to class.

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When Hannah gets to the class she runs into the last person she ever wanted to see. The Professor she was having an affair with! The one who turned out to be married, and the reason she left school.

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But that isn’t who they have for their class. They have Dr. Kimberly Whiting, who is pretty boring and Hannah can’t wait to leave. When they finally do get out, Norman turns up as he came to drive Hannah home, and hopes to take her out to dinner.

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They head back to her place as she decides she is far too tired to go out. This works for Norman as it turns out he has an ulterior motive.

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No not that. He too wants Hannah to help him figure out what’s going on with his mom.

What?

Why is she acting so weird? Why is she canceling on him all the time.

HMMM

While the two are eating and cooking, Mike decides to drop by. Now as you can guess I don’t like Mike. I think it is obvious she should get with Norman as Mike has a roving eye, and just expects Hannah to be free when he is.

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Anyways. While they are all eating and having fun, Andrea calls needing help in getting a Christmas tree, and both Norman and Mike decide to come and help.

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When they get there we have another Hannah lecture and random factoid…

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They go to the Crazy Elf’s Tree Lot, which is more than just trees. While Norman and Andrea look for a tree, Mike and Hannah ride a few rides and head over to the snack bar. It seems as if Hannah’s cookies are selling like crazy, and they are running out way too soon.

After Hannah takes more orders, Mike wants to get Hannah alone…

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NO not that. He wanted to talk to her about Carrie.

really?

It seems she’s on everybody’s mind.

seriously

Anyway, Mike has been working extra shifts at the Tri-County Mall and thinks Carrie is a shoplifter.

What?

And what ’til you hear this. The reason why he thinks that is because she is buying a lot of stuff and looked like she didn’t want to talk to him about it.

What?

That’s all your evidence? Come on, you suck as a detective. Did you look into whether those weren’t Christmas gifts? Charity donations? Clothes for the holiday parties? Maybe she has a boyfriend. I mean come on, think about it logically. There are a thousand reasons why someone may be shopping a lot around the holidays that don’t involve stealing.

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Oh my gosh, Mike is so stupid! He’s this dunderheaded in every book.

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So Mike and Hannah go to see Larry and talk about cookies. After the orders are done they get back to Andrea who has bought multiple trees. Norman buys Hannah a Christmas Tree, although she thinks it won’t work with her cat.

They go to set up the tree, calling in Lonnie, a deputy and Michelle’s (Hannah’s other sister) sometimes boyfriend. Hannah finds out from Lonnie that his sister is crocheting cute animals for the Crazy Elf Larry and getting paid $10. Hannah thinks it low as Larry is selling them for $20, but hey Hannah that’s business.

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The next day, Hannah is working in her shop when her mother comes in. Her assistant Luanne, a really hard worker, is missing!

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No one’s seen her, she didn’t come to work, and she’s not answering the phone. They call again, but still nothing.

This is bad.

This is bad.

But such is life, and Hannah continues cooking, getting the order ready for Crazy Larry.

Now here is where I have a major problem. We are nearing the halfway point of the book and were missing something.

Murder

Instead it has been trees, cookies, etc. Now I don’t have a problem with it being Christmas heavy, I love Christmas! But as they have taken so long to reach the murder and mystery, that means that we are going to have a quick wrap up. And it is going to either be A) extremely obvious, or B) solved in a silly and stupid way. Not looking forward to it.

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But back to the book. After Hannah finishes for the day she heads over to Luanne’s to see where she is and what’s going on.

It turns out that Luanne was asleep. She was given a job by Courtney to check the Crazy Elf Books and had stayed up way into the morning trying to balance the books, but to no avail. Luanne thinks it is her fault, but Hannah suspects that Larry isn’t everything he says he is.

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They head to the Christmas lot as Hannah needs to deliver the cookies and Luanne return the books.

They drop off the cookies and head out to see Courtney. Luanne tells her about her problems, and that she mentioned the issue to Larry. So not only is Larry cheating the company, Courtney knows, and Larry knows that Courtney knows.

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Back at the shop the girls are cooking up cookies when Dr. Whiting, the Mayor, and Herb (Lisa’s husband stop by). When Hannah sees Herb and Lisa and it makes her think about getting married. Let me just say I am sooo tired of this triangle.

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It is totally obvious who she should be with. I mean read this:

If she [Hannah] had accepted Norman’s proposal, he’d probably look at her like that. Norman was a true blue, and he’s be the sort of husband who would never risk his marriage by having an affair with another woman.

On the other hand, if she’d accepted Mike’s offer of marriage he’d probably…Hannah’s daydream evaporated in a flash of painful reality. If she’s married Mike and he went out of town for the night, she couldn’t be sure he wouldn’t stray. It might be a repeat of his nights with Ronnie Ward and Shawna Lee Quinn. If she were Mrs. Mike Kingston, she’d always wonder what he was up to when she wasn’t with him.

What’s the issue? You like Norman, he’s perfect, and your cats get along. Besides he built your dream house.

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Anyways, they get into a discussion about good business practices, and look over their homework. They notice that the wrong thing was the fact that the business was only dealing in cash. It is a bad business practice as it means the records might not be as accurate and could be hiding something. But that’s not true for every business. Like key shops.

That night Norman and Hannah go out for dinner and spot a couple hiding in a curtained booth. All they can see are the shoes, but the two want to snoop some more and Hannah pretends to accidentally spill her purse. As they pick the items up, Norman realizes who the woman is. IT’S HIS MOM!!!!

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Hannah tells Norman about Mike’s suspicions, and Norman is justifiably angry.

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They drive around the parking lot looking at the cars and trying to guess which guy it is when Hannah has to head out to Crazy Elf to get her check. The whole lot is very quiet…

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And the door to his office unlocked…

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And when Hannah reaches for her check, she spots Larry and realizes

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And that there are bullet holes in the room

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Meaning it is:

Murder

And this happens on page 167. Finally. Geez it was taking forever.

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It turns out that instead of being horrified at Hannah discovering another dead body, her mother Carrie wants Hannah’s help. It turns out her friend Dr. Love, a psychologist and radio show host, is the wife of Larry and the prime suspect.

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Hannah goes down to the bank to deposit Larry’s check and discovers that Larry had multiple accounts.

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So by now I figured that it is Dr. Whiting. She’s new in town, she just pops up randomly, has no real character, and is completely obvious as the killer.

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The police discover that Larry destroyed a lot of people by having them invest in his business only to give out false documentation.

Everything will be fine.

A real Ponzi

The mystery of what going on with Carrie is solved when they discover that it is Earl, a man they like and are okay with.

It was pretty dumb.

It was pretty dumb.

Norman does research on the computer and discovers one of Larry’s dirty deeds was as a large television set seller. The guy, Salvatore Bianco, who was cheated out of everything ended up killing himself. Hannah thinks the person is connected to Bianco, even though he cheated a ton of people and it could be ANYONE. The crime happened in Wisconsin so they are looking for someone from Wisconsin as to be the killer.

Hannah discovers that it is Dr. Whiting, because get this Bianco means White in Italian and her car plates have a W on it.

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Really? That a LOT of circumstantial evidence. I mean even if she is related that doesn’t mean she killed him. And of course instead of acting logical, Dr. Whiting tries to kill her, Hannah saves the day, they have Christmas dinner. Yada, yada, yada.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I really do not like these Christmas themed books as it seems like an excuse to just cram as many recipes as they can in and the mysteries are always obvious and cheesy.

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I did not like it.

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For more Hannah Swensen Mysteries, go to Cream Puff Murder

For more Christmas mysteries, go to Death Comes to Pemberley

For more Hannah Swensen Holiday Mysteries, go to Candy Cane Murder

For more conmen, go to Peach Cobbler Murder

 For more mystery reviews, go to Snagged

The Silence of the Llamas

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The Silence of the Llamas (Black Sheep Knitting Mystery #5) by Anne Canadeo

The Black Sheep Knitting group has headed out to the countryside, doing some good farm stand shopping.

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The crew is on their way to visit friend’s of Dana’s. Her old college friend Ellie; married Ben Kruegar, sold her successful business, bought a property in Plum Harbor, and created a Llama farm.

Aw, how cute.

Aw, how cute.

This weekend is Ellie ad Ben’s big grand opening of their farm, the Laughing Llama. While the event is fun, full of food and farm animals; somebody isn’t interested in it. In fact, the llamas are attacked by someone with a paint gun, severely injuring them.

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AAAAHHHHH

It turns out that, that isn’t the only bad thing that has been happening. There have been a series of “pranks” as the couple calls them, ranging from missing items, the animals being released, etc.

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It turns out that the idyllic countryside is not that idyllic after all. There is a development company that wants to buy up all the farms, and a group of people are trying to protect the lands. They believe that the Kruegars bought the land, only to turn it over to developers, but Ellie and Ben claim they are here long term.

HMMM

Their hired hand Dot, is a great help, but not really close to them.

Then one night they find the dead body of the man who was most interested in stopping them from “selling”, Jason Ridley. Now the police are looking at Ben for the murder, and the Black Sheep Knitting group are on the case.

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Thoughts After Reading:

So there are two mysteries in this novel. One is the sabotager, and the other is the murderer. This mystery was half good, with the murder being done excellent.

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while the sabotage part wasn’t that good. I mean I figured it out immediately.

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It wasn’t as bad as Stitch Before Dying , but not as good as Till Death Do Us Purl or While My Pretty One Knits.

***Spoiler Alert***

So as soon as I read this on page 43:

“Oh, Ellie, what’s the difference? We know who it is. Justin Ridley. He’s the only one who could have done this. The only one who has any reason to harass us. Who believes he has a reason,’ he [Ben] corrected himself.”

I knew it was Ben.

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I knew Ben was like the husband in Gaslight and Dangerous Crossing, just after the money and behind the scheme to sabotage so he could get it.

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For more Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries, go to Till Death Do Us Purl

For more cases of sabotage, go to A Taste for Murder

For more mystery reviews, go to Just Because You’re Paranoid, Doesn’t Mean a Demon’s Not After You: Storm Front

 

The Dollhouse Murders

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The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

So unlike most people who have read this book, I didn’t read this as a child but as an adult. This book was recommended to me on goodreads quite a few times. The first time I saw it I thought it was a book I had read as a child of a girl playing with dolls, and in essence whatever she makes the dolls do, happens in real life. In that book she continues to play rough with her dolls, making them cruel to each other, and in doing so turns the people she loves into monsters.

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She eventually realizes this and tries to destroy the dollhouse, being stopped by her mom or aunt (I don’t remember which) who gives it away to her cousin.

This was not that book.

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Yes this is a completely different book, as I discovered once I read the synopsis.

So this book was published in the early ’80s and definitely has that nostalgic feel. The girls are out wherever they want and their parents don’t care as long as they are back before dark. They listen to tapes, watch TV from the cable shows and have a sleepover that involves hanging out, telling fortunes, gossiping, etc. No internet, cellphones, snapchat, instagram, etc.

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So our main character is 12-year old Amy. Amy lives in a suburb of Chicago, (and no this is not a John Hughes movie), with her parents and her younger, mentally disabled, sister Louann. Amy is stressed and unhappy about always having to take care of Louann. It has destroyed friendships, as some girls feel uncomfortable around Louann or dislike her differences; either way Amy finds herself losing potential friends and just having to spend more time with Louann.

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She and her new friend Ellen have to take Louann with them to mall, and it doesn’t turn out well. After Louann runs away, destroys a floral arrangement, and gets the girls yelled at; coupled with Amy’s new friend Ellen canceling their plans (presumably because of Louann), Amy’s had it with her sister.

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She needs some freedom from being Louann’s keeper. When she tells her mom this, the two get in a fight and Amy runs away. She runs all the way to the edge of town where her Aunt Clare currently lives.

Aunt Clare is her father’s sister, and was living and working in Chicago. When she was fired from her job, she returned home to clean out her grandparents’ old house to sell it. She listens to Amy’s views and asks her parents if she can stay for a while and keep her company. They agree, but Louann is unhappy to lose Amy.

Amy is estatic to finally have freedom

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But discovers something unsettling about the house. It feels as if it has a dark cloud over it.

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Amy discovers a beautiful dollhouse in the attic. And when she asks Aunt Clare about it, she gets the family backstory.

When Clare was 15 and Amy’s father was 2, their parents died in a car crash. The two were sent to live with their grandparents, as they had money and lots of room. Amy’s father did all right, but Clare was constantly clashing with the grandparents. She wanted to be treated as an adult, but they wanted her to stay a child. Hence, they gave a fifteen year old a dollhouse. An exquisitely carved dollhouse that is a replica of the house, has miniature everything you could ever hope for, and has four dolls that are beautiful copies of the family members. Even still, it is a dollhouse and for Clare it was uncool. Three years later, the grandparents also died in a car accident, and the two kids were sent to live with an uncle. As soon as Clare graduated, she left for Chicago and hasn’t returned to the house since.

Amy is intrigued and wants to know more, but Clare does not want to discuss the house at all, becoming very upset over the whole thing.

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Ellen is soon invited over and loves the dollhouse as much as Amy does. The two play with it for a while, interrupted by Clare’s baking of fudge. They run down to the kitchen, with Amy realizing that she left the house open. Not wanting it to get dusty on the inside, she runs upstairs. When she gets there, she sees something shocking.

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The grandma doll isn’t where she left it, but in a entirely different room!

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She is called by Ellen and Clare, and shakes off that idea. Dolls moving? Must have been seeing things.

The three of them end up planning a pizza-birthday party for the two girls, as they turn 13 within a week of each other.

After Ellen leaves, Amy asks Clare more questions about the grandparents’ death. Clare however, becomes angry and defensive not answering anything.

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This causes Amy to decide to do some digging of her own. She and Ellen head to the library and start looking through old papers to discover what happened to her grandparents. When they are searching they find an article about them being murdered!

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Yes Clare lied! They were murdered!

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One night, Clare returned home from the movies and discovered the dead bodies of her grandfather and grandmother. Both were shot, the grandfather upstairs in his bedroom, and the grandmother in the parlor. Amy’s father was initially not found, and many believed him to have been kidnapped, until they discovered the five-year-old asleep in the closet. Valuables were stolen, so the cops believed it was a burglary gone wrong. They never caught the killer.

Another interesting tidbit Amy finds, is that Clare’s boyfriend of the time, Tom, was killed that night as well in a car accident.

Whoa

That night Amy calls Ellen and fills her in. Unfortunately, Clare hears her and becomes very angry, yelling at Amy for her insensitivity. Later Clare yells at Amy again, as she has discovered the dolls in the exact way her family members were on the night of the murder.

Amy is flabbergasted.

What?

She knows she and Ellen put the dolls in the dining room around the table. Besides, she just learned about the murders, there would have been no way she could have made it into the attic and do that. That means…

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THE DOLLS ARE MOVING BY THEMSELVES!

Crap

The only question? Why.

Amy and Clare make up, but Amy is now frightened of the attic and does all she can to stay out.

Amy goes home to get a few things for the party, when it is accidentally is slipped and now Louanne wants to come too. Amy doesn’t want her to come as she wants a day focused on her, and she doesn’t want to worry about anyone. She gets into another fight with her mom.

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At Aunt Clare’s, they start getting things ready for the party. Clare sends Amy upstairs to the attic to get some bedding so Ellen can stay over. The light went out so Clare gives Amy a flashlight.

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Upstairs, Amy goes to get a blanket when she sees a light coming from the attic and hears something!

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And runs downstairs.

The next day is the day of the party. Evey thing seems to be going smoothly, until Amy finds out that her mother had to go out of town and couldn’t find a sitter, so she left Louann at Aunt Clare’s. Amy is furious, as she knows Louann will ruin the party. To her surprise everything turns out perfect. All the girls have fun, they treat Louann like any other normal person; with the party going on for hours. That night the girls go to bed, with Louann and Amy sharing a room.

Amy wakes up at 3 in the morning and discovers Louann missing!

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She runs up the attic, as she knows Louann loves the dollhouse. When she gets there she finds Louann, a weird light coming from the dollhouse, and hears someone crying. So does Louann. Amy gets scared and the two go back to their room.

The next day, all three girls go for a hike with Amy telling Ellen everything that happened. She resolves to go up to the attic this very night and watching the whole event, in the hopes that she might discover why this is happening.

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Thoughts after reading:

This was a very cute and interesting mystery. At first I wasn’t sure as young adult fiction can really be hit or miss.

I loved the character of Amy as I think the author not only accurately portrayed a preteen girl, but a preteen girl having to take care of her disabled sister. It didn’t make Amy seem evil, rude; but just a regular girl trying to figure out her identity and who she is.

The mystery was actually pretty thrilling as the author keeps you guessing until the end. When the true story was revealed about the death of the grandparents, it made me wonder…was Aunt Clare involved with the murder? Was that the real reason she hated the dollhouse? You have to read it to find out.

I highly recommend this book for preteens and even for adults if you are feeling nostalgic.

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For more reviews of mystery novels, go to Lane Changes