Title: Dead of Winter by Wendy Corsi Staub
Lily Dale Series Book Three
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Supernatural, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Just as a murderer dumps his corpse into the lake across Valley View in Lily Dale, Bella Jordan happens to be at her window, not quite realizing what she’s seeing. Unbeknownst to her, the killer spots her silhouette and prowls straight to her door. That is, until he’s interrupted by a black cat. A superstitious gambler, he takes off, but Bella’s seen too much, and he vows to return.
Jiffy Arden, a neighborhood kid looking for the black cat and stumbling across the killer, begins to have premonitions of being kidnapped during the season’s first snowstorm. Sure enough, when it strikes, he vanishes, never arriving home from the bus stop. While her son, Max, believes Jiffy has been kidnapped, Bella is convinced he’s just wandered off as he typically does… until a body shows up in the lake.
Now everyone is pulling out all the stops to find the missing child, identify the victim, and collar the killer. And fast, because he’s coming for Bella next in Dead of Winter.
Dead of Winter by Wendy Corsi Staub is a leisurely-paced cozy mystery set in the psychic/medium enclave of Lily Dale. This third installment in the Lily Dale Mystery series can easily stand on its own, but I recommend the other novels in the series as well.
The day after observing a curious light on the lake and hearing an ominous scream, innkeeper and non-psychic Bella Jordan finds a corpse washed up on shore. The widowed mom of six year old Max is shaken by the discovery and when Max’s friend Jiffy Arden goes missing, she is very worried about the little boy. She has little in common with his mother, medium Misty Starr, who is not the most attentive of parents. Although Bella empathizes with the young mom’s concern for her missing son, she is also frustrated by Misty’s reliance on her mystical powers to find Jiffy. When another victim is found and Misty also vanishes, Lieutenant John Grange hopes Max and Bella can help with the investigations.
Coming up on the one year anniversary of her husband Sam’s death, Bella is busy getting ready for the holidays and trying to finish up the renovations she is doing for extra money. She keeps a rather close eye on both Max and Jiffy after her shocking discovery of the murdered man but she is distracted the day Jiffy disappears. Although somewhat skeptical of her neighbors’ supernatural abilities, Bella cannot help but take some of their vague warnings to heart in the aftermath of Jiffy’s kidnapping and Misty’s troubling disappearance. Can the answers to the recent events in town somehow be related to the unexpected phenomena Bella is suddenly experiencing at the inn? Is Jiffy’s disappearance related to the unsolved murders? And even more worrisome, where is Misty?
Despite the rather unhurried pacing, Dead of Winter is an engaging mystery with a cast of quirky yet likable characters and a clever storyline. Bella is a wonderful protagonist who continues to evolve as the series progresses. The mystery element of the storyline is well-done and Wendy Corsi Staub brings the novel to an exciting conclusion. This latest release is another entertaining installment in the Lily Dale Mystery series that old and new fans will enjoy.