review: 15 Minutes of Flame (book #3: Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery series) by Christin Brecher

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When Stella’s friend inherits a creaky, abandoned home in Nantucket, she knows it’s the perfect setting for the town’s annual Halloween fundraiser. A deserted, boarded-up building on the property–once used as a candle-making shop–adds to the creepy ambiance. But as Stella explores the shack’s dilapidated walls, she discovers a terrible secret: the skeleton of a Quaker woman, wrapped in blood-soaked clothing and hidden deep within a stone hearth . . .

While police investigate, Stella wastes no time asking for help from friends with long ties to Nantucket’s intricate history. The key to the murder may lie within a scorching 18th century love triangle that pit two best friends against one another over a dubious man. But before the case is solved, another life will be claimed–leaving Stella to wonder who in Nantucket is friend, and who is foe . . .

Source: NetGalley and Kensington Rating: 4½/5 stars

WOOOHOOO!!  The Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery Series is back in the saddle and 15 Minutes of Flame is hands-down the best book in the series, to date.

With Halloween quickly approaching Stella and her little black cat are looking forward to all the events her small town has to offer.  The weather is changing, the spooky is going up all around town, and Stella’s holiday candles are all but flying off the shelves. 

One of the highlights of the Halloween holiday is the haunted house Stella is helping to organize.  The dilapidated house is owned by one of Stella’s friends and is the perfect location for a community event.  One of the local youth groups is involved in the decorating and with just days to go before the big day things seem to be on track for a highly successful event.  In fact, everything is smooth sailing right up to the moment Stella discovers the bones of a body buried deep in the stone chimney in the property’s backyard shack.  In an instant, the Halloween haunted house becomes a real thing, and it is steeped in local history and lore.

Because of the age of the bones, Stella’s find is classified as an historical finding which means a whole new set of rules, regulations, and nerdy birds looking to catalogue and record everything in the proper manner.  Almost before the work can even begin on the first body, a second is discovered on the strength of local legend and extant writings.  To make the entire mess even more interesting, there’s talk of a treasure in the extant writings, the two women are likely connected to one another, and one of the nerdy birds falls victim to foul play in the course of the investigation. 

With three bodies, a hoard of scared little girls threatening to cancel the haunted house, and a cranky old bastard who knows more than he’s letting on.  If Stella can’t put two and two and two together and come up with the correct answer, there’s likely going to be more mayhem.  In order to work out the mess, Stella is going to have to dive deep into several local families’ histories and uncover some painful truths that have been long hidden and buried. 

The Bottom Line15 Minutes of Flame is one of my favorite types of book, a good old-fashioned past meets present mystery steeped in local history.  This read was a doozy from start to finish with multiple deaths, lots of backstory – I LOVE IT – and Stella up to her neck in the mess.  What’s more, the blue hairs in this book are out in force and with their help, Stella is able to not only solve the mystery but pull off a Halloween unlike anything the town has ever experienced.  I am glad to see this series pull out of the sophomore slump and come back in fine form with this installation.  With luck, this book will begin a streak of stellar reads!

Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo | Paperback

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