Berkley, March 2004, 5.99, 208 pp.
The town of Cobb's Landing New England is on the downhill slide thanks to a lack of money to keep the place running at peak capacity. Mayor Peggy Jean Turner (P.J.) has no money to give the teachers a much needed raise or to update the equipment in the police department. Max heroically rides into town, buys the bank and offers a brilliant idea to fill the town coffers.
He wants to turn the town into a colonial village, a New England Williamsburg. Max is so enthusiastic and such a positive speaker that the residents unanimously adopt his ideas. Of course Max is a business man first so he makes the residents take out loans to cover their share of the renovations. When Selma runs into P.J. at the post office, she says she has something to tell her about Max and they should meet that night by the town cemetery. Selma doesn't show and the next day her body is found at the unused water mill. Believing she was murdered, P.J. starts her own investigation and finds herself at the mercy of an insane killer.
DEATH OF A TART is an upbeat whimsical tale of small town living wrapped around a murder mystery. Just like an official police investigation, P.J. slowly connects the clues until she figures out who the perpetrator is. The townsfolk are a jolly lot as they see prosperity coming their way after years of trying to make ends meet. Though why P.J. and not the police investigated the crime is a mystery, fans will appreciate the talent of Kate Borden, who provides a fine New England amateur sleuth cozy.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner