The Walled Flower by Lorraine Bartlett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Katie Bonner and her late husband, Chad, had been scrimping and saving for years to buy the old Webster mansion and turn it into a bed-and-breakfast, but before his death, Chad took their savings and invested instead in Artisans Alley, a struggling craft market. It will take years for Katie to get out of debt now, and in the meantime someone else has purchased the aging home and begun renovations. When Katie takes a pizza over to welcome the new business owners to the neighborhood, she is rewarded with an opportunity to swing a sledgehammer and take down an unwanted interior wall. Taking her aggression and disappointment out on the drywall feels so good, she doesn't even notice at first when her efforts uncover the plastic-wrapped body of a young woman entombed between the studs. The girl turns out to be the niece of Katie's friend Rose. Heather has been missing for 22 years, and when Detective Davenport seems disinclined to work very hard on solving the crime, Rose begs Katie to help find the murderer. Meanwhile, there are vendor feuds to soothe, matron-of-honor duties to fulfill, and a new apartment to find, all before next week.
The Walled Flower is book two in the Victoria Square Mystery series set in the fictional town of McKinlay Mill, New York. Bartlett also writes cozy mysteries under the name Lorna Barrett. Either way, I enjoy her stories. They are good, quick escapist reads. I do wish her main characters had better love interests, though. If you're going to include new boyfriends, why have them be so...unromantic and un-supportive? There is such a thing as too incidental to a person's life--I have no faith that either relationship could possibly survive without serious improvement and communication. It feels like Bartlett/Barrett doesn't actually like men, or at least not her romantic leads, which is sad and frustrating, since I read for character as much as for story.
For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary, and there is no swearing or onscreen sex or violence.
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