It's been eight years since John J. Lamb's Bear Collectors mystery series ended, but I still remember them with fondness. Now, Meg Macy (half of the D.E. Ireland team) steps in to launch "A Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear Mystery". Bearly Departed, set in a small town in Michigan, features history, manufacturing, and sales of teddy bears. How can a teddy bear be involved in murder?
Sasha Alexander manages the Silver Bear Shop and Factory, while her more organized sister, Maddie, runs the office. It's a family enterprise. Her parents own it, but her father has turned the day-to-day running of it over to Sasha. That's one more reason it comes as a shock when their salesman, Will Taylor, announces he's talked with her father, and they're laying off employees, and going to outside some of the manufacturing to China. Sasha can't believe her father would do it, and tells the employees that has to be wrong. Her Uncle Ross, in charge of the sewing team, tells everyone he'll kill Will before that happens. When Sasha and Maddie find Taylor's body on the floor of the factory, stuffed with teddy bear fluff, she's afraid Ross will top the suspect list. But, why is there a teddy bear, cut open, on the floor as well?
Gossip runs rampant in a small town. Rumors abound about Will's infidelity. There are stories of drug buys and missing young men. Other than Ross, who hated Taylor enough to kill him? Because the homicide detective isn't from Silver Hollow, Sasha takes it upon herself to talk to friends and neighbors. Soon, she's hearing stories that shake her confidence. There are even stories about Maddie's plans to leave the family business.
While Sasha Alexander comes across as impulsive and disorganized at times, she's an ideal amateur sleuth with a dog she needs to walk, and connections to people throughout the community. Bearly Departed is a charming debut, about family and community. Cozy mystery readers who appreciate family connections might want to try Macy's new book.
Meg Macy's website is www.megmacy.com
Bearly Departed by Meg Macy. Kensington. 2017. ISBN 9781496709639 (paperback), 288p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review it for a journal.