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Murder For Beltene
by Sandra L. Brewer
Write Way Publishing, $18.99, 309pp
Publication Date: January 1, 2004
Several years ago I stumbled across this novel in the mystery section of the library but I believe the premise appeals as much to fantasy readers as it does to mystery fans, particularly with the recent emergence of paranormal mysteries as almost a genre in and of itself.

Rhiannon Beltene writes vampire novels. On a late night outing for ice cream she finds a bloodless body, and then the next night there is a second body and so on. This, I grant, is fairly straightforward mystery territory but then we learn more about Rhiannon’s family: starting with Grandmamma who fought the Romans in the first century and became the recipient of extended life via an ancient Druidic ritual; cousin Righdonn, a really experienced mercenary; cousin Trystan with an obsession for vampires....and then we have Merlin, who runs the local bank. Toss in some science, magic, secret ceremonies, tabloid reporters and you have a wonderful mystery with a delightful cast of characters.

I read this cover to cover in one sitting and then went out and bought my own copy so I could read it again. Even now, ten years later I still take it off the shelf for an annual read. The only real problem is that other than a short story in Homicide Host Presents, Ms Brewer seems to have dropped out of sight. Too bad because this was a well-written story that begs for it to be the beginning of a long series. Even though there are no more stories of Rhiannon and her eccentric family, I still recommend looking this one up in either your local library or used book store.  ~~ Stephanie L Bannon

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