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    AUNT DIMITY: DETECTIVE by Nancy Atherton (see the Aunt Dimity website)

    Viking, 2001

    Finch, England, hasn't had a murder for over a hundred years, but there has been one now--and the townspeople are univerally refusing to cooperate with the police. When the police latch onto innocent Kit Anscombe-Smith, Lori Shepherd decides she needs to find the truth and calls on her long-dead 'Aunt' Dimity for help. Dimity communicates by disappearing writing, but the vicar's nephew, visiting his uncle for a few days, proves to be a far more active ally. In gossip-rich Finch, this causes problems of its own, especially since Lori finds Nicholas Fox to be surprisingly attractive.

    The villagers aren't talking to the police, but they are certainly willing to talk to Lori and Nicholas. What they say, though, is that the 'victim' was the worst gossip, scandel-monger, and troublemaker Finch had ever known. While none admits to the deed, there are plenty of suspects, and plenty of people who seem to wish that they'd done the deed.

    Author Nancy Atherton (see more reviews of mysteries by Atherton) offers a host of memorable characters--from the irrepressible Lori, to the strangely compelling Nicholas, to the town gossips with their long lists of secrets. Like Lori, I found myself hoping that this suspect, whichever one that was, would not turn out to be the killer. Aunt Dimity, the title character, plays a relatively narrow role in encouraging Lori to keep looking and reminding her that she is a married woman, after all.

    AUNT DIMITY: DETECTIVE is a highly enjoyable short novel.

    Four Stars

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