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No Reservations Required by Ellen Hart
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No Reservations Required (2005)

by Ellen Hart

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As the story opens, it is mid-October in the Twin Cities – exactly one year after Valerie Fabian’s car was broadsided by one driven by a cell-phone-distracted Ken Loy. She died; authorities called an accident. On the same day in mid-October, Ken Loy and Valerie’s still-grieving widower Bob Fabian are shot and both die. Fabian’s shooting came during a phone call to police, during which he was about to name Loy’s murderer. He gets out the word “brother,” then the 9-1-1 dispatcher hears a gunshot and the call ends. Both Fabian’s half-brother Andy and brother-in-law Phil have alibis, and police are stumped about what Fabian’s last words meant.

Our heroes, hotelier Sophie Greenway and her radio-talk-show husband Bram Baldric, have ties to Andy and Phil. Sophie employs Andy’s wife; Bram knows the two surviving members of De Gustabus, a small but adventurous gastronomic group of which Bob Fabian was a member. Also, the niece of one of DeGustabus’s surviving members is close to Phil. If it sounds like a bit convoluted, it is. Thank goodness Ellen Hart includes a cast of characters so readers can keep straight just who is who and how they’re related.

In addition to her concern about the murders, Sophie is contending with an old flame who keeps turning up and making the usually unflappable Bram (a Cary Grant look-alike) jealous and a bit angry. Sophie’s dad, who formerly owned her Maxfield Plaza, has returned from an extended vacation and is getting back in the hotel game, much to Sophie’s chagrin. Bram’s daughter is also back in the couple’s lives, sponging off dear old dad and irritating Sophie to no end.

No Reservations Required has a satisfyingly complex plot and well-written characters. The resolution is a bit unusual but believable enough in the way that cozies are. It’s also a quick read, with two smooth and sophisticated sleuths.

By Diana. First Published in Mystery News, June-July 2005 ( )
  NewsieQ | Jan 23, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449007324, Mass Market Paperback)

A KILLER WAS FULLY COMMITTED

Twin Cities businessman Ken Loy is the first to die; shot between the eyes during a sunset bike ride. Half an hour later, Bob Fabian, the rich and handsome owner of the Minneapolis Times Register, meets a similar fate. It was a year ago when Loy broadsided the VW Beetle driven by Fabian’s wife, Valerie, killing her instantly. Coincidence? Sleuthing food critic Sophie Greenway doesn’t buy it.

Indeed, the elegant Rookery Club, where the upper crust gathers to drink, dine, and gossip, is already simmering with rumors–about the murders, about a Times Register reporter’s shameless fabrication of news stories, about rifts in two high-profile relationships. So when Sophie turns up the heat, the lethal bouillabaisse of twisted love, sadistic rage, and insatiable greed boils over. It seems that poisonous concoction murder du jour is back on the menu. . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:32 -0400)

Twin Cities businessman Ken Loy is the first to die; shot between the eyes during a sunset bike ride. Half an hour later, Bob Fabian, the rich and handsome owner of the Minneapolis Times Register, meets a similar fate. It was a year ago when Loy broadsided the VW Beetle driven by Fabian's wife, Valerie, killing her instantly. Coincidence? Sleuthing food critic Sophie Greenway doesn't buy it.… (more)

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