Despite the fact that Sara Rosett's last Mom Zone Mystery, Getting Away is Deadly was set in a city I love, Washington, D.C., I felt it was the weakest entry in this series. Rosett, and her character, Ellie Avery, are back on top of their game in Magnolias, Moonlight, and Murder.
Ellie is an air force wife, mother of two, and a professional organizer. When it gets a little trying spending the day with a three year old and a toddler, Ellie heads out for a walk with the dog, a chance to get out after a week of rain. But, as she and Rex follow the well-used path by a small cemetery, they find an uncovered grave. The rain could have washed away the dirt, but it really shouldn't have uncovered two skulls.
In their previous posting in Washington, Ellie had been known to poke around in a few murder cases. She promises her husband, Mitch, she's not interested in this one. But, then Nita Locksworth shows up at her door, wanting to know about the skulls. It's only then that Ellie finds out they're renting the house where a young woman lived who disappeared over ten months ago. Jodi Locksworth was Nita's daughter, and it's not hard for Ellie to be sucked into the investigation by a needy mother. And, of course, appearing at community gatherings will give her the chance to promote her organizing business, one that has stalled in the new location. It isn't long before Ellie realizes there were two people who went missing from the small Georgia town, Jodi, and a man who disappeared over fifty years earlier.
This time, Rosett has matched her skill with characters with a well-developed mystery. Some of the charm of this series lies in Ellie's life, as a dedicated military wife and loving mother. The fine details of Ellie's life are important to the storylines, from the birthday parties to finding chairs for a adult party to celebrate her husband's promotion. I've always been happy to read about a mother whose children are not left alone while she's off investigating a murder. Despite Ellie's interest in solving murders, her first concern is always her family. And, unlike so many other cozy mysteries, in this series, it makes sense for Ellie to become involved. Wouldn't you want to know what happened to the woman who disappeared when she was living in your house? Ellie does. These elements all combine to make Magnolias, Moonlight, and Murder the best entry in Sara Rosett's series.
Sara Rosett's website is www.sararosett.com
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Magnolias, Moonlight, and Murder by Sara Rosett. Kensington Publishing Corporation, ©2009. ISBN 9780758226815 (hardcover), 288p.