Dead of Winter (A Lily Dale Mystery) by Wendy Corsi Staub (Amazon Link)
Description: Just as a murderer dumps his corpse into the lake across Valley View in Lily Dale, Bella Jordan happens to be at her window, not quite realizing what she's seeing. Unbeknownst to her, the killer spots her silhouette and prowls straight to her door. That is, until he's interrupted by a black cat. A superstitious gambler, he takes off, but Bella's seen too much, and he vows to return.
Jiffy Arden, a neighborhood kid looking for the black cat and stumbling across the killer, begins to have premonitions of being kidnapped during the season's first snowstorm. Sure enough, when it strikes, he vanishes, never arriving home from the bus stop. While her son, Max, believes Jiffy has been kidnapped, Bella is convinced he's just wandered off as he typically does... until a body shows up in the lake.
Now everyone is pulling out all the stops to find the missing child, identify the victim, and collar the killer. And fast, because he's coming for Bella next in Dead of Winter.
Why I Picked This Book: I really enjoyed the previous book in this this series where Bella and her son are introduced and I'm fascinated by the real Lily Dale so visiting the fictional version is pretty fun.
What I Liked:
The setting - how fantastic is a town full of mediums as a place for murders to happen? As well, upstate New York in winter allowed the plot to have some pretty crazy snow storm issues that wouldn't have been possible elsewhere.
The characters - I love Bella. She's very sympathetic in still dealing with the grief over the loss of her husband and starting to feel the yearning to move on. I love her relationship with her son Max and her balance of belief and disbelief with all the mediums and talk of auras and Spirit and visions. The townspeople are an interesting lot as well and I'm hoping to spend more time with Calla and Misty especially.
The mystery - there are really two mysteries here. The first involves a dead body in a lake and the second involves a missing child. I couldn't wait to find out how they were connected and the solutions.
The pacing - I flew through this book. I felt completely pulled into the story and really didn't want to put it down.
What I Didn't Like:
The conclusion - while everything made sense and worked it felt really rushed and not explored enough. It was all wrapped up in the last 10 pages and I really wanted more explanation. It felt very abrupt.
Plot holes - I wouldn't say there are massive plot holes but there are several things that feel loosely explained.
While this book wasn't flawless I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to revisiting Lily Dale, Bella, Max and all the rest. It's a quick read that's not too cozy or too creepy but a good balance of both.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Yes! I'm looking forward to reading more in this series and already have several other books by this author waiting on my shelf for me.
Would I Recommend this Book? Yes with reservations. I think one of the reasons this worked so well for me is that I really enjoy the author's writing style and if it doesn't for you it might not be as easy to overlook some of the plot holes and abrupt ending. I definitely recommend giving her books a chance. While this isn't the first book in the series you could easily jump in here.