My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mallory Vianu manages her family’s Gypsy Caravan Manor Resort along with her Nana and adopted sister, Danior. The ladies capitalize on its beautiful, yet haunting, Victorian architecture and reputation for harboring an actual ghost or two, by hosting paranormal-themed events. This weekend they are trying out a new feature: a murder mystery weekend where the manor guests work to solve a “murder” during their stay. Presenting the event is an old friend of the family, Joelle Mackay, who recently started this new enterprise in an effort to revive her struggling business, so Mallory, Danior, and Nana are free to play along for a firsthand experience. If the event is successful, the Vianu ladies hope to incorporate it into their resort’s corporate event offerings.
With an unexpected spring blizzard headed their way and the guests beginning to arrive, Mallory is under the gun to ensure things still go off without a hitch. But, to add to the stress, she finds out that Nana has invited a special guest, a blind date for her granddaughter!As the weather moves in, close friend Penny Trubble, headed to the airport to meet her significant other on vacation, and her driver, Police Detective Kaden Bones drop off a guest from town, Mal’s best friend, Rebel Rouse, and become stranded there themselves when all flights are canceled and the roads become impassable. The two new arrivals are added to the game and the evening’s activities start off smoothly enough, with the exception of two missing guests at the opening scenario. But when the body of one of the missing guests is found at the bottom of a secret, hidden staircase, and it’s not part of the script; Mallory knows one of the players is a murderer!
If you’ve been following the unfolding Bohemian Lake Cozy Mystery series, you’ll recognize many of the characters in this first novel of off-shoot series, the Bohemian Murder Manor Mysteries. This storyline features the mysterious ladies of the Vianu family that operate the Gypsy Caravan Manor Resort on the lakeshore across from the town of Bohemian Lake.And the ladies ARE mysterious. Matriarch Nana Vianu is known for her uncanny skills as a gypsy fortune teller. Mallory, her granddaughter, can see auras and talk to the spirit world. Danior was found as an infant and adopted into the family; who she is and where she came from is a complete mystery. And then there is the unexplained disappearance of Mallory’s mother, Jili, and her father’s death, both a decade earlier.
With the Victorian manor house setting the tone for spooky goings-on, this first story has it all: odd guests who are not who they say they are, ghostly apparitions, numerous bumps in the night, murder, tension, and suspicion all around. It is a complex tale but entertaining to watch as the players work their way through the mysteries: those of the game and those that are real.I recommend this book to readers that enjoy cozy mysteries with a touch of the paranormal and that have read the previous books in the Bohemian Lake Cozy Mystery series. This is definitely a mid-point in a series and would be difficult to follow and enjoy as a standalone story.
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