Tuesday 2 May 2023

Short-Circuited in Charlotte (Pret’ Near Perfect Mystery #2) by Amy Patricia Meade

The next installment in Amy Patricia Meade’s Vermont series takes classic mystery high-tech!

When US Forest Ranger, Nick Buckley, is invited to the Creator’s Cavalcade to present his employer’s environmental initiatives, his wife, Stella, sees the science and technology driven event – which takes place on the grounds of a luxurious nineteenth century estate – as a holiday from the drudgeries of new homeownership and small-town life. However, when the Cavalcade’s Founder and Director, Philip Morehouse, is found dead in his bed of an apparent heart attack and the inventor of geodesic yurt housing is discovered bludgeoned to death, it quickly becomes apparent that this will be a working weekend for both Buckleys.

With a cast of characters that includes a Steampunk designer, a robotics engineer, an Italian fiber optic artist, a recycled materials percussionist, a glass-blowing anatomist, and a French chef who is a master of molecular gastronomy, it’s clear that everyone at the Cavalcade possessed both the brains and technological know-how to make Morehouse’s death seem accidental. But did they? Was Morehouse’s death due to an ongoing heart issue or something far more sinister? And how could his death be linked to the brutal bludgeoning of a man who sought to use his creation to shelter the homeless?

Only by embracing her inner “geek” can Stella solve the mystery behind both men’s unfortunate demises. But can she do so before the killer strikes again? And, more importantly, can she do so before the Cavalcade’s all-vegan menu drives burger-loving Nick to drastic measures?  (Summary via Goodreads)

Amy Patricia Meade set the stage nicely with the first book in the Pret' Near Perfect Mystery series, Well-Offed in Vermont.  She introduced us to Stella and Nick Buckley who had packed up their lives and moved from fast paced New York to the quieter lifestyle of Vermont.....or so they thought.  Unfortunately shortly after arriving in their new home, they found a dead body in their well.  Stella, not having a job any more took it upon herself to solve the case.

Fast forward to the second book in this series, Short-Circuited in Charlotte....Nick and Stella are going to Charlotte for a weekend for Nick's job.  Nick works for the U.S. Forest Services and they are going to the Creators' Cavalcade where they are participating in the art and technology festival.  They will be staying in the main house along with a selection of other participants.  Unfortunately on the morning that the festival is suppose to kick off, Philip Morehouse is found dead in his bed and shortly after that another partricipant who decided to stay in his tent on the festival grounds overnight is found stabbed to death.

Even though Stella and Nick just met everyone, Stella is again drawn to the case and when Morehouse's fiancee, Meagan, asks Stella to look into the deaths Stella gladly agrees.  The local police feel that Morehouse possibly died from natural causes even though he recently received a clean bill of health from his doctor.  Meagan doesn't agree with their assessment.

So Stella takes it upon herself, with gentle nudging from Nick and Meagan and casually talks to everyone that is staying in the house and the few employees that were present.  However before Stella can get any headway in the investigation she finds Morehouse's step-son, Mark, knocked out outside on a path.....

Stella needs to step it up if she is going to solve the murders and Mark's attack before someone else gets hurt or killed.  Unfortunately some people are not telling the truth and there are secrets some are trying desperately to keep covered up.

Readers will love these books. You get to meet Nick and Stella and their new home, town and its residents in the first book and then you are whisked away to an entire different place with a whole new cast of characters.  Meade is definitely making sure readers do not get bored and are kept on their toes.   And if the ending of Short-Circuited in Charlotte is any indication, we will again be traveling with Nick and Stella in the next installment.....and I cannot wait !!!!

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