Is a book worth killing for? In The Book Stops Here , by Kate Carlisle (Obsidian, $24.99), bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright may learn the answer. She’s scored a sweet gig as a guest appraiser on TV’s popular “This Old Attic.” In one episode, she estimates that the value of a first edition of “The Secret Garden” could “feed a family of four for at least two years.” The vintage copy was submitted by Vera, who bought it at a garage sale for $3 and giddily anticipates turning her find into fortune. But before that can happen, a man claiming to be the book’s real owner attacks Brooklyn, and Vera turns up with garden shears jammed into her neck. Brooklyn fears that this old book has drawn too much attention, perhaps due to a faint but tantalizing signature on the inside page: “Mae West”!
A Biscuit, a Casket , by Liz Mugavero (Kensington; paperback, $7.99), serves up a corpse in a corn maze, which is inconvenient for both the victim and Kristan “Stan” Connor, who’s hosting a canine costume party just yards away. Stan’s Pawsitively Organic meals for pets are gaining foodie fame in pastoral Frog Ledge, and a terrier’s birthday bash was supposed to have showcased those treats to the festive crowd. Now, instead of growing her company, Stan must reluctantly pitch in to help the family of the hapless dairy farmer, whose enemies included everyone but the cows. Her good intentions stir up secrets that threaten her cooking career — and her life. In her acknowledgments, Mugavero thoughtfully thanks pet rescuers everywhere.
A tip from a troubled tiger at the Happy Asses Donkey and Big Cat Rescue facility alerts animal behaviorist Grace Wilde to a missing teen in A Tiger’s Tale , by Laura Morrigan (Berkley; paperback, $7.99). Grace, whose psychic knack enables her to converse with critters, realizes that Boris the Siberian is agitated because young Brooke Ligner is missing. Yet Brooke’s parents are unconcerned, and Grace’s police detective-boyfriend can’t open a kidnapping probe based on a tiger’s testimony. Coaxing info from her four-legged sources, Grace tracks the missing girl and the surprising truths around her. Morrigan slips some fun animal facts into this mystery: Cougars are the largest cats that can purr; bone meal fertilizer will prompt a dog to dig up your entire yard seeking the bone that isn’t there.
Wisecracking mother-daughter duo Vivian and Brandy Borne, who deal in antiques and dabble in crime-solving, take Manhattan in Antiques Con (Kensington, $24), by Barbara Allan (pseudonym of spouses Barbara and Max Allan Collins). This latest entry in their witty “Trash ’n’ Treasures” series features the pair, accompanied by Brandy’s dancing Shih Tzu, at a comic book convention. Their original 1940s Superman drawing is to be the showstopper, but a different showstopper awaits them in the hotel elevator: a body, stuck through with a gold-pen award. The Bornes troll the convention for villains, determined not to let a mere homicide spoil the sale of their Man of Steel collectible.
In Murder Gone A-Rye , by Nancy J. Parra (Berkley; paperback, $7.99), all Toni Holmes wants to do is put the finishing flourishes on her float for the Thanksgiving Day parade, where she’ll promote her gluten-free bakery. Ninety-something Grandma Ruth will hand out Baker’s Treat pastries as the float glides along. Just one hitch: Ruth’s busy being interrogated by police. Her longtime enemy, Lois Striker, was found dead near telltale tire tracks like those made by Ruth’s senior scooter. Toni knows that her grandmother, a former investigative reporter, is no murderer, so they team up to crack the case by unearthing scandals about the town’s hero, a plan that’s a recipe for disaster. Prefer real recipes? The author offers them for such Baker’s Treat gluten-free specialties as berry shortbread bars and coconut lime cheesecake with mango sauce.
Blumenstock is a Washington writer.