A Hazardous Hoarder Mystery
1st in Series
Setting - Kentucky
Publication Date: September 7, 2022
Page count: 270 pages
Digital ASIN: B0BD2PWW61
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About Dumpster Dying
Birdie Harper is a widowed hoarder who lives with her husband's ghost. The only thing she enjoys more than a good yard sale is a good dumpster dive. When she finds her latest treasure—a ceramic angel— she knows just who to bring it to.
Jenna Lawson is a cashier at the Blue Market convenience store where Birdie often shops. The two women have formed a strong bond to assuage the losses in their lives, and Birdie thinks of Jenna like the daughter she lost long ago. So, when Jenna goes missing, Birdie is determined to find out what happened to her.
As she works to unravel the mystery, a man at church, Neville Miller, shows interest in Birdie, leading her to wonder if the lonely days are finally coming to an end. But her ghostly husband, Walter, sure isn’t going to like it.
Birdie is on a hunt that may claim the ultimate price—her own life.
A fun yet thought-provoking cozy mystery that tackles some serious life issues, such as the loss of a spouse, loneliness, and hoarding.
Dumpster Dying is a unique cozy mystery, and a fabulous start to a new series, A Hazardous Hoarding Mysteries, by Michelle Bennington. Not only does it check all the boxes for a traditional cozy, but it also takes on some serious life issues, such as late-life upheavals like the loss of a spouse, loneliness, and hoarding.
Birdie is a likable and sympathetic protagonist. She and her sister are fun together as they seek out special bargains and finds at local yard sales and have quite an organized routine. But underlying most of Birdie’s actions is her desperate and unrelenting need not to let go of anything, including the memory of her dead husband and lost child. She has seemingly transferred the idea of her lost child onto the clerk at the local mini-mart (also on a friend’s daughter and any other young person she encounters.) However, the book offers hope that change is on the horizon.
The action occurs in Miltonville, a small town in Kentucky, somewhere in the vicinity of Rothdale and Lexington. Birdie travels around the area quite a bit in her quest for answers, and I got a pretty good image of the town. Readers are also introduced to friends, acquaintances, law enforcement personnel, and suspects. I liked that the relationship between Birdie and the local sheriff is not too easy or friendly but more realistic; there is quite a bit of tension. I am really curious about how things are going to progress with Walter.
The mystery is good, and Birdie’s investigation is pretty aggressive, much more so than the one the professionals are waging. The sheriff’s staff frequently complains of being understaffed and unable to pursue the case properly. I would have thought the sheriff would have called in state resources to supplement their efforts if their department was that small and overwhelmed.
With great characters, a fresh and cozy small-town Kentucky setting, and an interesting case to solve, I recommend DUMPSTER DYING to cozy mystery readers who enjoy yard sales and more mature sleuths.
About Michelle Bennington
Born and raised in the beautiful Bluegrass state of Kentucky, Michelle Bennington developed a passion for books early on that has progressed into a mild hoarding situation and an ever-growing to-read pile. She delights in spinning mysteries and histories. Find out more on her website: www.michellebennington.com.
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