"Razing the Dead" by Sheila Connolly (Berkley Prime Crime, $7.99) is the latest in her popular cozy mystery series showcasing Nell Pratt.
As President of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society in Philadelphia, Nell has gotten into considerable trouble while solving difficult cases in four earlier books.
She gets involved in another challenging case when a major local developer hires her. Mitchell Wakeman has bought a large dairy farm outside of Philadelphia that has been in the Garrett family for centuries.
Wakeman wants to be sure that there are no problems with this purchase, as occurred nearby, where the dumped bodies of Irish immigrant railroad workers were discovered.
Pratt and Lisa Penrose, a new employee, go out with Wakeman to take a look at the property; they discover a dead body floating in a pond.
The corpse is identified as George Bowen, who worked for the local township in charge of land usage and zoning. The case gets more complicated when more bodies are discovered, possibly dating back to the Revolutionary War.
Pratt's boyfriend, FBI agent James Morrison, is called in on the case; he's still recovering from wounds he received in an earlier book, "Monument to the Dead."
While much of the book is devoted to the investigation, there's also significant attention paid to the growing relationship between Pratt and Morrison, which has turned a lot more serious.
Although the setting of this novel is not in a small town, it still falls into the "cozy" category of mysteries. It qualifies because it delves into aspects of small organization, with many atmospheric tones.
Suspects abound - as Pratt and Morrison dig deeper, they discover other intriguing aspects of the case, with deadly results.
While ending is merely satisfactory, there's plenty of room for future development in the series. For fullest employment, it would probably be best to read this series in order.
Connolly's characters are carefully crafted and believable. She's also the author of two other cozy series. "The Orchard Mysteries" and "The County Cork Mysteries", (set in Ireland).
If you like reading cozy mysteries, you might also want to try out any of a half dozen new paperback books released this month by the same publisher, Berkley Prime Crime.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop,
has been reviewing crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.
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This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on June 22, 2014.