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    Claire Malloy hopes to improve her bookstore's profit picture when the mystery writer's convention comes to Farber College. Instead, she's drafted into running the entire convention. Each of the mystery writers makes themselves difficult, but the fan really gets hit when Editor Roxanne Small shows up.

    One of the attendees dies in a car wreck on her way home from the opening cocktail party and Claire is thrown into investigation mode. It could have been an accident, of course, but someone had to give her the barbituate that reacted so badly with her single glass of wine.

    Writers are an annoying group of people and editors are worse. Joan Hess brings out all fo the pettiness of a small writer's convention and makes it amusing as well as exciting. Claire's own life is far from peaceful. Her erstwhile love interest shows up with flowers, police suspicions, and word that his ex-wife wants his genes to father her child. Claire's daughter has achieved the age of 16 and Speaks in Capital Letters. And the man who is supposed to help Claire get into the autographing room is a drunk who rents out the hospitality suites at the college football field to homeless people.

    As a mystery, A CONVENTIONAL CORPSE is just slightly silly--don't pick a Hess book to be scared. On the other hand, if a fun adventure that will leave you nodding in recognition (or give you an insight into the 'exciting' life of an author on the convention circuit), a look into the life of a single mother making it on her own appeals to you, you won't want to miss this one.

    See more reviews of novels by Joan Hess.

    Four Stars

    Purchase A CONVENTIONAL CORPSE from (available in hardback).