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Leave It to Cleaver by Victoria Hamilton
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223727,112 (3.9)2
Vintage cookware and cookbook collector Jaymie Leighton has agreed to help her sister clear out the house of a deceased older neighbor, and she's thrilled at the prospect of discovering antique kitchenware and other treasures--until she opens a vintage trunk in the cellar and finds the remains of a teenage girl with a cleaver buried in her skull. When the body of a second girl is found just days later in a nearby river, the clues all indicate that the crimes are connected--and that the culprit's motives are hidden in the past. Jaymie just wants to cut and run, but the victims were both high school classmates of her sister when they disappeared, and that makes Jaymie the perfect person to help the local police investigate the killings. As she dredges up old memories and even older rivalries and jealousies, her list of suspects grows. But Jaymie knows she'll have to whittle it down to just one, and fast, because someone has decided to cut their ties to Jaymie--in the most fatal of ways. Includes a vintage recipe!… (more)

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Leave It to Cleaver is the sixth book in the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series, but the first that I have read. This can definitely be read as a standalone.

While Jaymie is helping Becca clean out the old Paget house for liquidation after the death of the elderly woman living there, they discover the body of Delores Paget stuffed in a trunk in the basement. Delores was a one time friend of Becca’s who is believed to have left town at the age of 16 in 1984. Things get even more interesting when the body of a second missing teen who disappeared on the same day as Delores, is found in her car in the lake. Police are worried about trying to solve a two decades old murder. Even more interesting, the girls are found wearing the same handmade sweater. In an unusual twist, Chief Ledbetter actually asks Jaymie to help him investigate since she knows so many people in town who would have been friends with one or both of the missing girls.

The story goes back and forth between 1984 and the present. While in the past, you learn about various characters and what they were doing at the time. While all this is going on, there are also shower and wedding plans taking place. I really liked Jaymie. She is smart, caring, friendly and subtle. The other characters, Becca, her fiancee Jacob, girlfriends Heidi and Valetta all play an important role in the story as well as clues to solving the crime. They are a great group of friends and family living in the small town in Michigan. Victoria Hamilton has written an excellent mystery that will have you guessing until the big reveal. The misdirects were great. The reasons behind the murders were surprising and the perpetrator was not what I was expecting. Overall this is a very well written, well plotted and interesting cozy mystery that I would recommend. ( )
  Carlathelibrarian | Feb 5, 2019 |
Jaymie and Becca volunteer to clear out an old farm house so that it can be prepared for an estate sale. When they venture to the basement they find an old trunk with the skeleton which turns out to be the remains of an old high school friend of Becca's that disappeared 30 years ago. Two days later another "runaway" is found at the bottom of the lake and she disappeared at the same time.

Jaymie and Becca work to find a connection and determine who the murderer was all that time ago.
A very entertaining cozy mystery with lots of twists and turns. Thoroughly enjoyed it. ( )
  cyderry | Nov 7, 2017 |
Leave It To Cleaver by Victoria Hamilton is the sixth book in A Vintage Kitchen Mystery series. Jaymie Leighton is thrilled when Jakob Muller proposes to her on Valentine’s Day. Jaymie loves Jakob and adores his little girl, Jocie. Jaymie and her sister, Becca have agreed to clear out the Paget house for Lesley Mackenzie. The perk is getting first pick of the items. They go to the basement where they come across an old truck. Upon opening it, they discover a body clad in a red sweater with a cleaver in the skull (can you imagine what the yarn must be made of to not disintegrate). Back in 1984, Becca knew Delores Paget who owned an identical sweater. Delores supposedly left town that year and was never heard from again (now we know why). A few days later, Jaymie watches while divers pull up old Ford Falcon with a body inside wearing a red sweater identical to the other victim (that is some yarn). The victims are identified as Delores Paget and Rhonda Welch. Becca knew both victims in high school and they disappeared from town at the same time. The common link between the two girls is Brock Nibley. Chief Ledbetter asks Jaymie to listen for any details that will help him with this case. Jaymie considers this the green light to start nosing around and asking questions. The killer is less than thrilled with Jaymie’s inquiries and will not hesitate to strike again. Will Jaymie make it to her own wedding?

Leave It To Cleaver contains good writing and the story has a nice flow/pace. Jaymie Leighton is a great character with her big heart and love of vintage items. The mystery was complicated (thank you Victoria Hamilton) and fun to solve. The best part of a cozy mystery is following the clues and see if I correctly guessed the killer’s identity. I liked finding out more about Becca and what happened after Jaymie was born. The story goes from present day back to 1984 (and then back again). I am not a fan of this technique, but the author pulled it off (it was not confusing or overdone). I give Leave It To Cleaver 4.5 out of 5 stars. The only part of the story I did not like was Heidi. She is planning the wedding, and I found her maddening. Leave It To Cleaver is the sixth book in the series, but it can be read alone. The ending will leave readers with smiles on their faces. ( )
  Kris_Anderson | Jun 21, 2017 |
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