Category Archives: Bonner, Brynn

Brynn Bonner. Death in Reel Time. New York: Gallery Books, 2014.

reel timeSophreena McClure and Esme Sabatier are back in this, the second novel in the Family History Mystery Series. Their client, Olivia Clement, is recovering from treatment for breast cancer.  Her illness has shaken her and upset her family and friends too.  The friends banded together to help Olivia through her treatment, but they also want to give Olivia something special for her birthday—Sophreena and Esme’s genealogical research services.

Olivia is thrilled.  Both her maternal and paternal grandparents died before she knew  them.  She grew up as an only child, raised by her mother and and aunt and uncle who lived next door.  The adults in her life rarely spoke about her father who disgraced the family by running away during World War II to avoid the draft.  Olivia really wants to know about her father–What kind of man was he? Why did he leave? Could he still be alive?

Soph and Esme get to work right away, visiting Olivia almost daily to ask her questions, review boxes of family memorabilia, and bring Olivia up-to-date on leads they found searching the web.  These daily interactions cause the women to notice certain things about Olivia’s family–her son’s great cooking and his dissatisfaction with his legal career; her daughter Beth’s deference to her bullying husband Blaine; and Beth’s unsettled relationship with Blaine’s brother.  Creating an unwelcome distraction is a young filmmaker, Tony Barrett, who is staying with Olivia while he interviews an elderly local man.  He has recently enlisted Beth to help him with the interviews.  Beth enjoys this work, and the old man seems to have taken a shine to her

But when Beth arrives injured and a bit incoherent for her mother’s birthday party, everything changes.  Just as dessert is being served, Detective Denton Carlson arrives to tell Beth that her husband has been murdered.  Soph and Esme (who has been dating Detective Carlson) pump him for information, but little is known about Blaine’s death other than how he died.  The where, when, why, and who did it are unknown.  As the police work on the case, Soph and Esme try to continue their research while treading very gently with a family that has had more than its share of trauma. To take some pressure off Beth, Soph steps in to help Tony complete his interviews.  Little does anyone know how important his work will be to Olivia’s family.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

For the first book in the Family History Mystery Series, see Paging the Dead.

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Bonner, Brynn, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont

Brynn Bonner. Paging the Dead. New York: Gallery Books, 2013.

pagingSophreena McClure and Esme Sabatier are an odd couple.  The women are partners in a family history research business, and they share a home in the fictional town of  Morningside, North Carolina.  Sophreena is quite short and looks like a classic mild-mannered nerd.  Esme is over six feet tall and carries every inch of that height with attitude.  Sophreena’s approach to their work is always the same–systematic research and meticulous documentation.  Esme adds an unorthodox element–she gets messages from the spirit world.   In the five years that they’ve worked together they have traded off each other’s strengths and gotten used to dealing with the prickly wealthy people who are their usual clients.

Dorothy Pritchett Porter is typical of their clients: she wants a sanitized version of her family history packaged in an attractive set of scrapbooks to impress anyone who visits her in her mansion on Crescent Hill.  Sophreena and Esme are on track to deliver that in time for Mrs. Porter’s open house on the weekend of the town’s Honeysuckle Festival.  As Paging the Dead opens, the researchers have just made Mrs. Porter very happy by locating a ring that is a long-missing family heirloom; as they leave, she is  playing with the great-niece who she adores.  That is the last time that they see Mrs. Porter alive.

Because Sophreena and Esme are among the last people to see Mrs. Porter alive, the police, in the person of detective Denton Carlson, visit the women at their home.  It’s not long before half the town considers them suspects.  To clear their names and protect their business, Sophreena and Esme begin to poke around.  With an estranged husband, a somewhat feckless nephew, and long-lost sister who has recently returned to town, there is no shortage of suspects.

This reader senses that Paging the Dead may be the first book in a projected series. Sophreena and Esme’s backstories are revealed, as is how the two women met, and readers become acquainted with their circle of friends.  Romantic interest are introduced.  It is clear that something will develop between Esme and Detective Carlson, although readers should not be too hopeful about Sophreena’s chances with Jackson Ford, the landscape architect who is part of the women’s social group.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Bonner, Brynn, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont