Deader Homes and Gardens(Claire Malloy Mystery, Book 18) by Joan E. Hess

Book Description

Publication Date: February 14, 2012 | Series: Claire Malloy Mysteries
Claire Malloy discovers that house-hunting can be murder—literally—in the latest entry in Joan Hess’s “wildly entertaining series.” (Mystery Scene)
Back from her somewhat unusual honeymoon, Claire Malloy must face the harsh reality of life with her new husband, police chief Peter Rosen, and her teenage daughter Caron—three people simply can’t fit into her cosy two bedroom apartment. After a week of fruitless looking, she finally finds the perfect place—a well preserved large house on a large plot of land in an area called Hollow Valley. There are only a few problems. Such as the real estate agent disappeared mid-showing and hasn’t been seen since. And the last owner died in circumstances labeled ’accidental’ but were actually both ’mysterious’ and ’dubious’. The family that owned the estate is now suing the lover of the dead owner over the rights to the property. Oh, and it isn’t really for sale. When the previous owner’s lover dies practically at her feet, Claire decides to take matters into her own hands. After all, to get the house of her dreams, first she has to find a killer. And all’s fair in love, war, and real estate.
Review –
This is my favorite so far of all the books I’ve read in the Claire Malloy Mystery Series by Joan E. Hess.   The characters are quirky  and interact well and   Claire’s daughter, Caron, is still talking in Capital Letters ( I love it) and her friend Inez shows up too in all her goofy glory.  This book made a hot summer afternoon bearable.

Out On A Limb ( Claire Malloy Mystery #14) by Joan E. Hess

Product Description:


Faberville bookstore owner Claire Malloy is ruminating over the state of her love life when she gets disturbing news. Elderly Miss Emily Parchester is up a tree. Chained to an old oak, packing a thermos of tea and a gun, the retired schoolteacher is ready to go down with the ship, or rather the tree, before she’ll let another historic piece of Farberville be bulldozed in the name of “progress,” i.e., developer Anthony Armstrong’s condominiums.

With Miss Parchester armed, and therefore dangerous, Claire fears this noble act will end tragically. Unfortunately, it does-when someone murders Armstrong. And suddenly Claire herself is out on a limb: a baby has been left on her doorstep, the child’s teenage mom is suspect number one in Armstrong’s death, and Claire needs to find the real killer fast. Especially when she discovers Miss Parchester knows more than she’s willing to tell….


Review –

Let’s just say that this was a pleasant read for a cold afternoon when  there was nothing on television and my head hurt and I didn’t want to think too much.   I will be so glad when this headache goes away.

Tickled to Death (Claire Malloy Mystery #9) by Joan E. Hess



Product Description:

Murder is no laughing matter—especially when it comes to marriage. So before Luanne gets in too deep with her new flame, a dentist named Dick, she’d like her best friend to do a background check. Did Dick murder his two previous wives? That’s what Arkansas bookseller and amateur sleuth Claire Malloy intends to discover…

 Everything Claire turns up on this would-be blue-beard keeps leading her down a slippery slope. The police are determined to prove Dick guilty of double homicide, but Claire’s not so sure. Something about his story just doesn’t add up. But if Dick didn’t do the deed, who did? The only thing Claire knows for sure is that Luanne won’t have a moment’s rest until she finds out…


Review –

I don’t know how I did it but I read this book out of order and I hate it when that happens.  Oh well, too late now.  What’s done is done.

I didn’t care for this story as much as the others and I really can’t explain why except that the characters didn’t seem as interesting and I didn’t like the “bird” storyline.  I’ve already moved on to another in the series and I hope it turns out better.



A Conventional Corpse (Claire Malloy Mystery #13) by Joan E. Hess

Product Description:

Farberville, Arkansas, is playing host to its first-ever mystery convention with five major mystery writers–each representing a different subgenre of the mystery world–making the trek to the local college for “Murder Comes to Campus.” Bookseller Claire Malloy is looking forward to meeting some of her favorite writers and, of course, selling books to the attendees. But her plans for a calm, profitable weekend are soon laid to waste when the organizer is hospitalized and Claire is dragooned into running the show.

Finding herself in the midst of barely controlled chaos, Claire has to deal with five writers, each with a distinct set of idiosyncrasies and difficulties (including one who arrives with Wimple, her crime-solving cat, in tow). With Claire’s own love-life woes with local police detective Peter Rosen added in, things have never been worse…until things get worse. One of the conference attendees dies in a car accident, Wimple the cat disappears from Claire’s home and cannot be located, and Roxanne Small is nowhere to be found–making it evident that in Farberville the murder mystery is more than a literary genre.


Review –

I’ve had a horrific sinus headache for many days and maybe that’s why this book just didn’t live up to my expectations.  While I enjoyed it, the plot could have been stronger and the “Peter”  situation  thought out a bit more.  I’ve already started the next one and I’m hoping my headache will be gone before I finish it.

A Holly, Jolly Murder (Claire Malloy Mystery # 12) by Joan E. Hess

Product Description:


With Farberville’s college on holiday break, Claire Malloy’s bookstore is quiet . . . deadly quiet. Breaking the silence is a little old lady looking for volumes on pagan rituals, applied magick, and Celtic mysticism.  Claire is intrigued and—miffed that her lover, Farberville police Lieutenant Peter Rosen, says she’s in a rut—happily accepts an invitation to welcome the winter solstice at dawn.
Showing up at the Sacred Grove, Claire expects wild chanting or even nude dancing.   Instead she ends up sitting on a stump watching the Arch Druid clean her bifocals. Then winter arrives and so does a dead man.  Someone has shot the wealthy benefactor of Farberville’s neo-pagans. Now Claire is mixing some snooping with her Christmas shopping.  But instead of wrapping up the case, she finds out ‘tis the season for ho- ho- homicide . . .  and she may be the next victim.

Review –

Because I had some other things to do, other than read,(darn) I read this book in a day and a half and probably could have finished it earlier but the characters were so convoluted with each other that at times I had a hard time keeping up with who was who and what their part in the plot was. I still enjoyed the prev book the best but I have just started #13 so we’ll see what I think when I’m done.

If you haven’t read one of this series you really should start, you won’t be sorry.



Closely Akin to Murder (Claire Malloy Mystery #11) by Joan E. Hess

At first it seems like a prank. How could Veronica Landonwood be the voice on the other end of the phone when she died three decades ago? But as Arkansas bookseller and amateur sleuth Claire Malloy is about to find out, her cousin “Ronnie” is very much alive—and in trouble. And could use Claire’s help…

 Today, Ronnie is a renowned scientist living in Chicago. But when she was a teenager, she had a run-in with a famous Hollywood producer in Acapulco, Mexico. He attempted to sexually assault her—and she killed him. Having served time in prison, Ronnie finally put her this episode behind her…until now. Just when she has a real shot at the Nobel Prize, a ruthless blackmailer is threatening to expose the secrets of her past. Can Claire help to preserve Ronnie’s reputation and keep her out of harm’s way? That will depend on Claire’s investigation—and what really happened on the night of the murder so many years ago…



Review –

First of all, I love the cover of this installment of the Claire Malloy Mystery Series because I’m a big fan of lime green and it just makes this one pop!

Second, I loved this story better than the previous one and finished it in one day. Although it has just as many entertwined characters, the story line was much more enjoyable because of the setting in fun and exciting Acapulco, Mexico(although Claire and company only saw the seedier side) and the dry deserts of Arizona. I get a kick out of Caron, Claire’s 16 going on 30 daughter, who Claire says talks in “capital letters”. To see what she means by that you’ll have to read this one for yourself.  You won’t be sorry.

Busy Bodies ( Claire Malloy Mystery #10) by Joan E. Hess

Product Description:

 Leave it to Claire Malloy, owner of the Book Depot in Farberville, to start out having tea with retired schoolteacher Miss Emily Parchester and end up investigating a murder. An avant-garde artist who moved into a house on Willow Street has the whole neighborhood up in arms. His “interactive art,” complete with a nearly nude model and a coffin in the front yard, is attracting a mob of noisy gawkers. Irate residents are worried about declining property values. The local mystery writer cannot meet her deadlines with the constant clatter. And when the artist’s estranged wife rolls up in a limo and announces to one and all that she intends to have him committed to a mental institution, all of Farberville is in a dither. But before the night is out, even stranger things happen: the volatile artist’s house goes up in smoke, a dead body is found inside the coffin, the artist is promptly arrested for murder…and Claire Malloy, devoted amateur sleuth that she is, starts snooping where she doesn’t belong.

Review _

It has been really cold here the last couple of days  and this was the perfect book to curl up with and that’s exactly what I did.  It’s a fast easy read with a twisted murder plot,teen angst,a troubled love relationship and an amateur private detective.  What more could you ask for on a cold winter day.

This was the first time I read anything by Joan E. Hess but I’ve already moved on to  #11 in the Claire Malloy Mystery Series  and the weather is forecast to remain cold so bring me a hot cup of tea and a blanket and I’m set for the night.