The Cantaloupe Thief by Deb Richardson-Moore
About this book: (from the publisher) Branigan Powers knows a good story when she sees one—and the ten-year-old cold case of wealthy Alberta Grambling Resnick’s murder definitely makes the cut. Resnick was stabbed in her home after she let it slip that she was planning to change her will. There are plenty of suspects in the death of the matriarch of the town’s founding family, but the killer has never been caught.
Now Branigan must do some serious digging to get her story. She knows the town’s homeless community might have seen something; she also knows that the local cops wouldn’t have thought of questioning these often-invisible people. There’s a big problem, though: as Branigan starts digging, the homeless start dying. When her twin brother, a long-time addict, gets involved, the consequences of her investigation may hit a little too close to home.
Set in the fictional small town of Grambling, Georgia, The Cantaloupe Thief is the first in a new mystery series by Deb Richardson-Moore. The author is herself a former journalist and works extensively with the homeless, lending weight to the portrayal of a believable and engaging whodunit.
About the author: For 27 years, Deb Richardson-Moore was a reporter for “The Greenville (SC) News,” winning three national writing awards and routine recognition from the South Carolina Press Association. She was a wife, mother of three, and that suburban cliché, a minivan-driving soccer mom.
She then took over the religion beat at “The News” and enrolled in a nearby seminary to learn more about it. Her life was never the same. She left the newspaper and earned a master of divinity degree. Because jobs for clergywomen were scarce in her own Baptist denomination, she accepted a job as pastor of the non-denominational Triune Mercy Center, a crumbling, inner-city mission church to the homeless.
Deb is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Erskine Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Vince, have three grown children.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG for mild profanity
Reminds me of: The Irish Cottage Murder and other mysteries by Dicey Deere
[Tweet “Cleverly plotted mystery offers intriguing insights into a real-life issue @KregelBooks”]
Reflection: If the world were filled with more books like this one, I would be a happier reader. Now more than ever, I appreciate novels that artfully weave real-life matters into an already compelling story — an edifying way of offering both education and entertainment. In this case, the entertainment portion derives from a cleverly plotted mystery — the solution to which I did not guess before arrived at. As for the education part, the homeless element throughout is both realistic and compassionate, and I know more about what it means to be homeless than I did before I read The Cantaloupe Thief. Yet the “issue” is never allowed to overpower the story; instead, it’s woven, with care, into its fabric. Nicely done.
In Branigan Powers, readers will find an appealing, if understated, heroine-detective, and enough layered relationships to render a real-life feel. The story as a whole is well paced, with longer chapters interspersed with shorter ones and differing POVs (points of view). All seasoned with intriguing twists, right up until its satisfying and hope-filled conclusion.
Thanks to Lion Fiction/Kregel for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
After words: What other novels have you read that balance a good story with a real-life issue?