Second Installment is Much Better
It's the week before Halloween in Aldenville, PA and the small town is anxiously awaiting the annual Pumpkin Express, although this year, after the festivities, the body of Xenia Villarreal is discovered in the A.maz.ing Maze.
So begins the second entry into The Stamping Sisters mystery line by Terri Thayer. Thayer brings back heroine April Buchert who continues to adjust to life in her childhood hometown after leaving her husband in San Francisco.
Unlike Thayer's first entry, this go around with the residents of Aldenville is 100% better than the debut. While Thayer still clutters the pages with a lot of characters, she has managed to bring the mystery much closer to the beginning of the book and manages to keep interactions between characters to a minimum. With the tightening of the story it did become hard to put down.
What makes this second attempt better is Thayer puts us in the Halloween spirit. It's a time everyone can identify with, however, Halloween is never celebrated or ever really mentioned following the murder. We're just told it's an unusual Indian Summer (and with living in the Midwest I can't recall an Indian Summer which lasts as long as the one depicted throughout the book).
From the beginning we learn that April is finally "dating" Mitch and eventually we're introduced to her soon to be ex- husband Ken. I have to give Thayer credit for not drawing this out. He's in and out within a few paragraphs, but I suspect he'll return in future installments.
Also, what makes this enjoyable is it does keep you guessing as to who the murderer is (and mystery fans should like the fact that there is a second murder as well).
I think Thayer needs to bring the action within the first 10 to 20 pages and one setback is I wasn't satisfied at the ending.
While I had an idea to the identity of the murderer I felt it was wrapped up to fast.
As much as I enjoyed this second installment, I do hope Thayer looks back to see where the flaws are. If she can work out the kinks then I think The Stamping Sisters mysteries will be around for awhile and continue to get better with each turn of the page.