Dunne, June 2002, 23.95, 272 pp.
Dido Hoare's Antiquarian Books and Prints store is doing well and the associated mail order business and website is increasing profits for the single mother and her son. One of her best customers is Timothy Curwen who usually buys her expensive Victorian books whenever she gets them into stock. Over the last year he has spent thousands of pound in her store so she's very surprised when his two hundred pound check for Charles Dickens THE HAUNTED MAN AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN bounces.
She learns that Tim is dead, so she writes to his solicitors and next of kin for remittance on the book she just sold him. They hire her to appraise Tim's book collection, but she is surprised to find that the books in his home are worthless. She does find her book hidden away and takes it home with her. She learns that Tim was involved in a drug selling operation and that the body was not Tim, but instead a police man “minding” the collector who was going to turn state's evidence. Dido's natural curiosity pushes her into the middle of the investigation.
A Dido Hoare mystery is always fun to read and DIE ONCE is no exception. It's always interesting to watch the heroine balance her business, her interfering but concerned father, and her son's needs while she is in the middle of the case that she knows she should stay out of it. This is a delightful amateur sleuth novel that has plenty of action but is not all gory. Marianne MacDonald creates a warm cozy that will have a large fan following.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner