I attended an interesting talk by author Carole Shmurak a couple of years ago where she described her method of coming up with ideas for a mystery novel, things like wondering what would happen if a body fell out of that tree you are walking past right now. Carole is a wonderful speaker and discussion leader. She has visited out library several times to introduce her own novels and to lead our annual "Big Read" discussions of The Maltese Falcon and To Kill a Mockingbird, and she will be here again on November 18 to give us the scoop on this, her latest Susan Lombardi novel. In this story Susan is invited by former student Shauna Thompson, now an English teacher at exclusive Hilliard High, to help solve the mystery of who is leaving Shauna, an African-American, puzzling messages clues that are obviously racial in tone and possibly dangerous. During the process of investigating Shauna's problem, Susan (of course) becomes involved in the discovery of a body, the wife of Shauna's fellow teacher Leo Loops. Loops has disappeared, leaving the community to conjecture about the reason: guilt, fear, or foul play?
What I love about this series is that it is set in the Hartford area with references to local towns and roadways. Susan Lombardi is a capable, likable woman with a happy marriage, the requisite best friend, and an intelligent, resourceful approach to solving crimes. As with Beth Groundwater's novel, I would enjoy a bit more ambience and detailed descriptions, but that's just my personal taste. I'm a person who loves to immerse myself in the atmosphere of whatever I'm reading. Carole's writing is clean, straightforward, and easy to enjoy. I am looking forward to the next Susan Lombardi mystery. I wonder if Susan's husband, Michael (Swash) Buckler, will get tired of cooking and devote himself to vintage autos instead?