Title: Birthday Party Murder
Author: Leslie Meier
Series: Lucy Stone Mystery #9
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books
No. of pages: 272
Published: 2002; 2008
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
The whole town of Tinker’s Cove is looking forward to the celebration marking former librarian Julia Ward Howe Tilley’s ninetieth birthday. Lucy Stone, Miss Tilley’s closest friend, dreamed up the party idea—at about the same time she decided she’s not getting old without a fight.
That sounds like a plan—until Lucy realizes her daughter’s fourteenth birthday bash, a coed sleepover, may turn her hair white overnight. What was she thinking when she agreed to let Sara have the party? On her mind, instead, was the shocking death of Sherman Cobb, the town’s oldest attorney, an apparent suicide. His law partner, however, thinks Sherman was murdered.
Poking about in Sherman’s papers, Lucy turns up an intriguing tie between the dead man and Miss Tilley. Meanwhile Miss Tilley’s own past has come back to haunt her in the form of a mysterious niece named Shirley and a biker great nephew named Snake. Soon no one can get to see the elderly librarian because the brash, bossy Shirley says she’s “failing.” Now, as a killer’s ruthless plan rushes toward a conclusion, Lucy needs answers fast—or else she and Miss Tilley won’t live long enough to make a wish and blow out the candles on this year’s birthday cake…
Lucy Stone, very busy wife and mother of four, has a part-time job at the town’s newspaper. She agreed to allow her daughter to have a co-ed birthday sleepover. One of the Tinker’s Cove oldest citizens, a former librarian, Miss Tilley, is approaching ninety. She feels pressured when her best friend Sue asks her to help out with a party Sue and her friends are planning for Miss Tilley. She reluctantly agrees to help. She is quite fond of Miss Tilley, but has a full schedule. They decide to throw a “Miss Tilley Day”.
Meanwhile, Sherman Cobb was found murdered by his partner Bob Goodman. Lucy agrees to look into the case. As an amateur detective, there is nothing surprising about this. It was ruled a suicide but it seems suspicious. Her husband Bill has his typical reaction. "Bill sighed in frustration. 'What do you want to go and do that for? Haven’t we been through this a million times? Why do you have to keep sticking your nose into police business, huh?'" Why would she involve herself in solving another murder?
Although one of her children is just in the second grade, with two of her children being in college, Lucy begins to feel the effects of getting older. She has become focused on losing weight. Working on that goal, and dealing with the two birthday parties, hardly leaves Lucy time to step in and find the cause of Sherman’s death. As she begins checking things out, quite a few things do not fall into place that don’t line up for man that would kill himself. As always, Lucy leaves no stone unturned.
Birthday Party Murder has some sensitive moments, especially as Miss Tilley experiences flashbacks from her youth. Between everything going on, this story is another delightful little mystery and is a great addition to this ongoing series. As the story progresses, other things happen in Lucy’s life and family. In this story, as well as the series, some readers like myself are getting rather annoyed with Lucy‘s husband Bill being big man on the town. His view of Lucy’s role can be rather condescending. If not the mystery in this series, which is done well, the characters will draw you in. I definitely look forward to continuing with this engaging series.
This is the 9th book in the series, with the 25th book, Valentine Candy Murder, being released in December, which is an omnibus, as are some of the new releases. The next book in the series is Father’s Day Murder, which was originally released in 2003. I encourage readers of this review to look at my other reviews from this series on this blog. Also, here is a link to her series in order: https://www.fantasticfiction.com/m/leslie-meier/.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I started writing in the late ‘80s when I was attending graduate classes at Bridgewater State College. I wanted to become certified to teach high school English and one of the required courses was Writing and the Teaching of Writing. My professor suggested that one of the papers I wrote for that course was good enough to be published and I sent it off to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’s Department of First Stories. I got $100 for the story and I’ve been writing ever since. The teaching, however, didn’t work out.
My books draw heavily on my experience as a mother of three and my work as a reporter for various weekly newspapers on Cape . My heroine, Lucy Stone, is a reporter in the fictional town of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, where she lives in an old farmhouse (quite similar to mine on Cape Cod!) with her restoration carpenter husband Bill and four children. As the series has progressed the kids have grown older, roughly paralleling my own family. We seem to have reached a point beyond which Lucy cannot age–my editor seems to want her to remain forty-something forever, though I have to admit I personally am dying to write “Menopause is Murder!”
I usually write one Lucy Stone mystery every year and as you can tell, my editor likes me to feature the holidays in my books. Of course Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year and my newest mystery “Eggnog Murder,” is included in an anthology with two other Christmas novellas by Barbara Ross and Lee Hollis. I’ve long been a fan of the classic English country house mystery, and was a faithful watcher of “Downton Abbey,” so I couldn’t resist trying to write one. I think I succeeded rather well, if I do say so myself, with “British Manor Murder,” which came out in October, 2016.
My books are classified as “cozies” but a good friend insists they are really “comedies of manners” and I do enjoy expressing my view of contemporary American life.
Now that the kids are grown — we have five fabulous grandchildren — my husband and I are enjoying dividing our time between Braintree and Cape Cod, along with our cat, Sylvester.