I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a new Chautona Havig book. It’s partly self-preservation – she modeled a character on me one time, and it was not one of the good guys. In fact.. well, never mind. Figure it out for yourself. It’s someone in this series.
Book #1 – Manuscript for Murder
Because of that, or in spite of it, the Hartfield Mysteries are my favorite Chautona Havig series. It is such a creative concept – in the first book, Manuscript for Murder, Alexa Hartfield is an eccentric mystery writer living in an idyllic small town. She’s a free spirit, dressing in clothing from different eras to suit her mood and the book she is writing, living alone and enjoying it. Then someone starts turning her murder mysteries into a blueprint for their own killing spree, and Alexa Hartfield teams up with an unusual police officer to solve the case. This book just delighted me. I loved Alexa. She’s so “comfortable in her own skin.” The pace of the (obviously incipient) relationship with the policeman, Joe Freidan, was perfect. I appreciate slow romances.
Book #2 – Crime of Fashion
At the beginning of Crime of Fashion, Alexa assumes that her life will resume its previous tranquility. It doesn’t, of course. Things are changing at home and in a new business venture. I really didn’t want her to get involved in that business. You could see it was a train wreck right from the start. She and Joe are getting serious in this book. The ending, unfortunately, left something to be desired. It was a complete shock to me, though, and I can usually solve the mystery by the middle of the book. Not here. I only started getting suspicious in the last few pages. I still wish it had ended differently.
Two o’Clock Slump was a totally different book. Alexa leaves her beloved home and travels back to the place she left behind – a place where she is neither liked nor welcomed, where even her own family (not nice people) cause her grief. There was considerable character development in this book. I liked it, but Alexa was depressed there, and I just wanted her to leave. Go back to Fairbury where people like you and you can be yourself, Alexa. Except she can’t, because someone is framing her for murder. She’s on the lam.
Book #4 – Front Window
I don’t want to give spoilers, but you’ve probably already guessed that Two o’Clock Slump has a happy ending. Things are going along pretty well at the start of Front Window. Alexa’s even-more-eccentric aunt Faye is moving to Fairbury, and all of them are looking forward to a happy season when strange things start happening at the retirement village. Aunt Faye is the real star of this book, and she’s a worthy addition to the series! Front Window is an entertaining book with all the best qualities of the series. You’ll love it.
Have you read any of these books? What do you think? Which was your favorite? Do you think Aunt Faye should have her own book?