Saturday, November 11, 2017



Callie Reed makes a long overdue visit to her aunt Melodie, who lives in a fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, home to a bevy of unique collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Just as they’re beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt’s body on the floor of her music box shop. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can’t accept Melodie’s death being called accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she there in the middle of the night?

As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn’t careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie’s collection.

A Fatal Collection (A Keepsake Cove Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Midnight Ink (November 8, 2017)

Paperback: 264 pages

ISBN-13: 978-0738752198



Can Murder Really Be “Cozy?”

Fans read cozy mysteries for many different reasons, but the one that seems to pop up most often is “for fun and relaxation.” Hmm. People find murder fun and relaxing? Well, I suppose mostly if it happens to someone else. But still. Murder? Let’s think about it.

First of all, murders in a cozy usually takes place off stage. Unlike thrillers or police procedurals, readers can count on their cozy mystery to have no inch-by-inch grisly descriptions of the act. The body will simply be discovered after the fact, and though the cause of death will be mentioned – gunshot wound, stabbing, or blunt force injury, whatever – there will be no gory autopsy to read through.

In A Fatal Collection, the first of my new Keepsake Cove series, the body of Melodie Reed was found by her visiting niece, Callie, early the next morning as she looked for her aunt in the music box shop. Neither Callie nor the reader learns Melodie had been killed until hours after it happened.

The focus of a cozy tends to be the puzzle: who had motive and opportunity? Finding that out, breaking fake alibis or digging up the secret motivations becomes a kind of a game. Was Colonel Mustard really at the party the entire night, or did he manage to slip out without anyone noticing? Had Professor Plum never known Miss Scarlet as he’d claimed, or was he actually being blackmailed by her for something in his past?

In A Fatal Collection, Aunt Mel’s death was ruled an accident. Callie doesn’t buy it and so tries to find out who had a good reason to want her aunt dead. Which illustrates a point of the “fun and relaxing” part of cozy mysteries. The reader can count on the murderer in a cozy never being a serial killer who picks out victims at random to torture and kill. “Cozy” murderers are those every day, ordinary people you might live next door to or run into at the PTA meeting or supermarket. Some things happens to tip them over the edge, whether it’s blackmail over a scandalous secret, jealousy, revenge, or that most petty but prolific reason: money.

In A Fatal Collection, Callie starts to see the darker sides of some people who at first meeting seemed to be all sweetness and light—well, most of them. There’s also a hidden side to her aunt to be investigated. Why did Melodie keep an active, disposable cell phone with no contacts or messages stored on it? And what was in the locked metal box Callie discovers at the bottom of the closet?

And so the mystery slowly unravels, with occasional breaks in the tension for non-murder related things. Cozies have lots of people populating their towns, and it can be fun to get to know them and to learn about the town itself. Aunt Mel lived in Keepsake Cove, a part of town where all the shops specialize in collectible items. The one Callie inherits from her carries unique music boxes. Then there’s the shop that offers toys from past generations, the one with collectible sewing items, and more. Walking through the streets of Keepsake Cove is a collector’s dream.

But something needs to shake everyone awake once in a while, and that, in a cozy mystery, will be murder. A nice, tidy, off-stage, very real, but not too upsetting murder. In fact, a fun and relaxing murder. But only between the covers of that cozy mystery. A safe place where readers can go to enjoy a good story. And to sleep well afterwards, knowing that justice has been served and all is well. Until, that is, the next book in the series arrives (A Vintage Death) and a new murder occurs. Off-stage, of course.


Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries (Penguin), the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. A Fatal Collection is her debut with Midnight Ink. A Wisconsin native, she has lived most of her adult life in Maryland, where she’s set many of her stories.

Connect with Mary Ellen:
Website   |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest 

Buy the book:
Amazon Barnes & Noble  |  kobo