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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Dead Men’s Wife by T.E. Harkins is the second book in Egret’s Loft Murder Mystery series. The community of Egret’s Loft has a lot to celebrate with the wedding of Madeline’s neighbor Helen. It’s the eighth time around for the bride as she’s all set to marry Carl in a hastily arranged wedding. The honeymoon comes to an abrupt end when the groom is found dead. But who has the motive to kill Carl? The police seem to think that seven other dead husbands mean that Helen is a Black Widow and the one responsible for Carl’s death. Madeline isn’t so sure of her neighbor’s guilt and has only one option if she’s going to prove it. With a little help from her friend Gina and some advice from her children, Madeline searches for the real killer and digs into Carl’s past, which leads to a few surprising discoveries.
The book opens with a joyous celebration as Helen is getting married with the wedding described as being a fairytale kingdom on steroids and with an over-the-top Disney theme. The kitschiness of the occasion sets the lighthearted and humorous tone of the story while also letting you get to know Helen better. The plot revolves around Helen as her history of dead husbands makes her an obvious suspect and her semi-friendship with Madeline drives the need to find answers. Egret’s Loft serves as the perfect backdrop to Madeline’s sleuthing antics as she and Gina run around the community investigating Carl’s life and searching for clues that could lead to the killer. The different residents of Madeline’s community each have a personality that sets them apart and through the course of the mystery T.E. Harkins lets you get to know them through Madeline’s eyes. They include Jinny and George from Canada, Phyllis who moves like a ninja, and a woman with a walker twerking at the wedding.
Madeline’s children remain present in her life along with her grandchildren, particularly Curt who has an unusual mind despite his young age. She and Gina make the perfect duo with their witty banter and zany ideas. The humor is derived through the characters and the locations such as the discovery of a prosthetic leg on the golf course. The Dead Men’s Wife is a delightful second installment in the series with top-notch humor, a quirky retirement community, a dynamic duo of friends, and great character writing.