A Midsummer Night's Scheme (A Bookbinding Mystery)
“Kincaid provides some good clues and foreshadowing with books, journals, handwriting, and broken hearts whose purpose becomes clear at the book’s end.”
For starters, in A Midsummer Night’s Scheme by Harper Kincaid the reader is introduced to Quinn Caine, presumably the protagonist, but then enters Daria (aka Elizabeth) Caine, Quinn’s cousin who takes on the lead role. One could say this is a partnership of protagonists—an unusual setting for a cozy.
Quinn is partnered with Aiden Harrington, detective of the Vienna VA police department, so the romance starts early in the story. Daria is a novitiate at the local convent with just one year to go before taking her final vows. Before deciding on this path, she was the wild child in town, in love with Raj who threw her over.
When Quinn, Aiden, Daria, Quinn’s brother Sebastian (Bash) and his girlfriend Rachel all meet at a local theatrical event, the reader is introduced to Chad Frivole.
Chad is a local-boy-made-good on Broadway who has returned to his hometown to open a first-class theater for the community. As a high school graduate, he did not make a lot of friends. A womanizer from an early age, he dated and dropped numerous girls who were not keen to see him return—for any reason.
Ella Diaz, Corri Rypka, and Senya Petrova each fell into the “once upon a time” category of Chad’s girlfriends and they are not happy about his return. A fourth character, Jenny Kieval, is a quiet young woman who is friends with the three angry women, and her role in the story remains in the background.
It doesn’t take too long before Chad meets his maker in the form of a nifty little sports car full of poisonous snakes and no way out.
Each of the three ladies quickly becomes suspect as their past relationships with Chad unfolds. Corri is overheard by Sister Daria making a confession to Sister Theresa about what she has done, while Quinn discovers that Ella is maintaining a collection of poisonous snakes in a backroom at her soon to be opened restaurant.
Enter Halster Fitzsimmons, III, Chad’s manager, who was not in favor of Chad returning to Vienna. A new suspect.
Soon another attempted murder is discovered when Bash and Rachel discover a horde of poisonous spiders have been set loose in their apartment with the intent to kill one or both of them.
Kincaid provides some good clues and foreshadowing with books, journals, handwriting, and broken hearts whose purpose becomes clear at the book’s end. In addition, there are lengthy scenes that could be tightened, giving more attention to solving the crime.
A considerable amount of time is spent on gathering Chad’s cat from his apartment and giving it to Quinn to take back to her house, already occupied by her dog RBG. A warm relationship between the dog and the cat develops with no connection to the crime.
It is clear throughout the story that pets, especially dogs, are important to the author, as there are numerous scenes where dogs are trained, walked, fed, housed, and cared for—again with little or no association to uncovering the perpetrator of the crime.
Kincaid spends quite a bit of time in the middle of the story with a family scene that has nothing to do with the cozy murder. The reader trots through the rest of the story expecting the family crisis to be tied up with the murder, but that never happens.
While most cozies have a requisite scene at the end between the protagonist and the antagonist, Kincaid has a different take on this. When Quinn discovers who the murderer is, she gathers her small group and they all flock over to the murderer’s house for the final confrontation. While there is some good tension in this scene, it is somewhat subdued because of the size of the group.
Other than the title of the book, the relationship with Shakespeare is unclear; perhaps it has to do with the number of players in the story. As is becoming a norm with cozies, A Midsummer’s Night Scheme finishes off with several recipes for foods mentioned in the story.