Hattie Lehtinen (there are more Finnish family names in this mystery than the Helsinki telephone book) has returned to the town of Red Jacket at the end of a disastrous six-month marriage to manage her father's bait shop which she plans on turning into a bait shop and yarn emporium. Deeply civic-minded, Hattie helps in planning and orchestrating the celebration of turning a large, two-family lightkeeper's house into a county old age home. The only incident marring the occasion is the murder of the woman's son who gave the lighthouse to the county. He apparently had returned to the Keweenaw to contest the ownership of the house and took a fatal and involuntary swan dive from the top of the light tower for his troubles.
The incompetent, do nothing sheriff assigned his nineteen-year-old deputy Ellwood to investigate the murder. The kid is so inexperienced he Googles a website entitled "Ten Steps to Solving a Murder." Hattie has read all of Agatha Christie's mysteries and therefore considers herself more than qualified to solve a murder and appoints herself Ellwood's assistant investigator. And to quote a famous fictional detective, "The game is afoot."
The unraveling of the crime and search for the killer leads to two more murders before Hattie pins the tail on the guilty party. I must admit Agatha Christie novels were never my cup of tea and it wasn't the hunt for the truth and solving of the mystery within these pages that kept me reading. Topographically, historically, geologically, and culturally the Keweenaw is an endlessly fascinating place and the author has done a great job of capturing the uniqueness of the peninsula and the character of its inhabitants. It also doesn't hurt that the author has a well developed sly sense of humor and uses it to full effect in this first in a series of mysteries starring the proprietress of Red Jacket's only bait shop and yarn emporium.
As an aside I must comment on the term "Cozy Mystery." This is the third such self-described mystery in this sub-genre I've reviewed and frankly, I'd like a publisher to define a cozy mystery because I'm at a loss to do so. Their hallmark characteristics seem to be the avoidance of describing any gruesome aspect of the act of murder, little or no swearing, and the sex act, or any approximation of the aforesaid activity, cannot appear between the book's covers. This in spite of the fact the latter could be depicted as cozy and comforting and this book includes the term "Holy Wha" which is described as a Yooper expletive. The American Heritage Dictionary defines cozy as "snug and comfortable" which seems the polar opposite of a murder mystery. It almost feels as if publishers of cozy mysteries are trying to sanitize murder. I would welcome their response.
A Pattern for Murder: The Bait and Stitch Mystery Series, Book One by Ann Yost. ePublishing Works, 2018, $16.99 pb.
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