Who killed Grumpy Gill and why?

By: 
Jan Jones
Columnist

“Home is Where the Body Is” by Jody Holford is subtitled a “Wannabe Sleuth” mystery because several of the characters consider themselves good sleuths, but books and TV can’t compare to real life.

Annie has agreed to move from Portland, Oregon, to the gated community of Rainbow Falls, Washington, to house-sit while her parents take a yearlong trip around the world. Annie is a single, self-employed graphic designer who loves crime novels and police procedurals, but faints at the sight of blood.

When she arrives in town and stops for coffee, she encounters the resident grouch, Gill Howard. They don’t hit it off at all.

Annie hasn’t unpacked when a whirlwind named Margie barges in. Margie is in charge of almost everything that happens in the area and quickly presents Annie with a list of resident duties and expectations.

She soon learns that Margie and Joseph are sweethearts, Raj is a single loner, and Ginger is single and travels a lot. Bob and his grandson, Tate, are her next door neighbors and grumpy Gill is her other neighbor.

When Annie enters the garage, she encounters a large white cat in an agitated state. Terrified, Annie calls area veterinarians for help. To her surprise, handsome and single Ben shows up. As I expected, there is an instant connection. He explains that the cat is about to give birth, but as they watch Annie keels over.

When Annie learns that the cat, Shelby, belongs to Gill, she decides to drop by and tell him about the kittens, but when she arrives she finds Gill dead with a large knife in his back. Once again, the blood causes Annie to pass out.

She wakes to learn that the case has been taken over by the nearby Trenton police. Detectives Ricker and Black immediately target Annie as the prime suspect. They refuse to do even a rudimentary investigation and refuse to listen to anything local officer Ryan suggests.

Several of the residents of Rainbow Falls decide to do their own investigation and Annie is forced to help prove her own innocence. Gill’s nasty temperament gives them a long list of people to consider as suspects, but no one seems to have either the strength or motive to stab the man. While the case creeps forward Annie begins to meet the people in both the compound and the community.

A picture of Gill forms. He was divorced, had one daughter, Mira, and ran a car dealership in a town where most people simply walked instead of driving. He may have been disliked, but no one seems to have a motive to kill him.

When young Tate is arrested, they must double their efforts to find the real killer. As Annie, Ryan, Ben and Margie dig into Gill’s history, they learn that he was the lone holdout preventing Joseph from moving in with Margie and renting out his own home. Everyone is at the monthly HOA meeting when Ricker and Black arrive to arrest Joseph.

Shocked and saddened, Annie goes to the garage to spend time with the kittens, where surprisingly the real killer confronts and attacks her. She comes to find she is surrounded by friends and neighbors who explain that the killer has been arrested and Ryan will get credit for solving the case.

While resting from her ordeal, Annie decides she actually likes the vibe of what she considered a sleepy little town and hopes to stay around after her parents return.

Who knows what kinds of drama exist within even the smallest towns? Your public library can provide books filled with fascinating stories. Please do check it out.

AT A GLANCE

Book: Home is Where the Body Is (The Wannabe Sleuth, Book 1)

Author: Jody Holford

Publisher: Tule Publishing Group

Year published: 2022

Number of pages: 324