Pocket, August 2003, 5.99, 320 pp.
After learning her husband is gay, actress Emily Andrews leaves New York to return home to Iowa where she takes a job as an escort for a bank sponsored senior citizen tours. Last year she went to Switzerland where she was involved in a triple homicide (See ALPINE FOR YOU), caught a killer, and met the love of her life Swiss Detective Etienne Micelli.
This year Emily escorts seniors to Ireland where they stay at Ballybantry Castle, renovated into a hotel but rumored to be haunted. The trip begins wonderfully when Etienne shows up unexpectedly for a rendezvous but the fires burn out when two of the hotel's staff are found dead with wet webbed footsteps found near one of the bodies. Haunting cries in the night, cold spots in unexpected places, and electricity going out for no logical reason turns Emily's job into a nightmare. Meeting her former husband who had a sex change operation and is on a honeymoon complicates matters. When Emily discovers there have been over forty deaths at the castle in two years, she decides to find out who the killer is.
TOP O' THE MOURNIN' is a delightful cozy that is low on gore but rich in plot and characterizations. There is plenty of slapstick humor especially when the heroine and her significant other are repeatedly interrupted during an interlude. The mystery is well constructed and the support cast yields a number of suspects, one of whom has an excellent motive for wanting to destroy the castle's reputation by making it seem better to vacate than spend a deadly vacation there.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner