|Reviews for A Deadly Homecoming
Clarion Review MYSTERY
A Deadly Homecoming
Jane Bennett Munro
iUniverse (Oct 27, 2018)
Softcover $13.99 (222pp)
This addictive mystery, with its charming lead heroine, is twisting and captivating.
In Jane Bennett Munro’s engaging mystery, A Deadly Homecoming, a pathologist helping a family friend finds herself entangled in a complex murder plot.
At her mother’s request, physician Toni Day returns to her hometown of Long Beach, California. Her dear friend
Doris’s new husband, Dick, has gone missing from the spooky mansion where they live. When Toni and her family
visit the mansion, she notices dried blood, a suspicious bottle of arsenic powder, and other oddities, making Dick’s
absence and Doris’s mysterious illness even more troubling.
As Doris grows sicker and her mother falls prey to similar symptoms, Toni develops a theory of foul play, but she
struggles to convince others to trust her instincts. Undeterred, she digs deeper. Her investigation leads her into a
labyrinth of danger and deceit, revealing multiple possible crimes and motives that reach across generations. This tale features secret passageways, a string of dead bodies, old feuds, threats of violence, and psychological observations that throw into question everyone’s assumptions.
Wrapped in endearing elements of filial duty, family affection, and hometown nostalgia, this mystery includes a large and ever-expanding cast of interconnected characters. Their mix can be confusing. The story’s coincidences
sometimes feel manufactured. Long Beach is imbued with a small-town, old-fashioned feel that seems contrary to its reality. Scenes are overly detailed, down to street names. Dialogue can be pedantic, and some of the backstory is awkwardly incorporated. Attempts to solve the mystery often feel like an unnatural group effort between law
enforcement officials and a family of amateur sleuths.
Toni Day is a compelling lead, though. She is sympathetic, smart, and dogged in her determination to uncover the
truth. Her perceptiveness and diligence in noticing inconsistencies and tracking down clues is inspiring. The tidbits of information revealed throughout make the book’s medical and police procedural elements believable and compelling.
The mystery itself is interesting and complex, and Toni narrates in a way that holds interest. The prose is tense at
appropriate moments: “Pushing someone over that rail would surely result in death. Now why in hell did I have to think of that just now?” Quotes from luminaries from Shakespeare to Dumas enrich the story’s impact.
A Deadly Homecoming is an addictive mystery with a clever heroine and enough plot twists and cozy charm to
WENDY HINMAN (January 18, 2019)
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have heir book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
A Deadly Homecoming: A Toni Day Mystery
Jane Bennett Munro
iUniverse, 211 pages, (paperback) $13.99, 9781532054907
(Reviewed: January 2019)
In her latest puzzler, Jane Bennett Munro brings back Toni Day, a spunky 50-year-old pathologist who is known “to love a good mystery.”
From the outset, it seems there is more than one mystery to solve as Day learns that family friend Doris — who precipitously married the charismatic Dick Campbell shortly after her first husband died — has fled her new marital home. The home appears to be haunted, Doris has been feeling sickly ever since she married, and she’s desperate to learn the whereabouts of her missing husband.
While the police delay investigation, seeing Day as a nuisance, she unofficially sleuths out the case. Along the way, her husband, Hal; mother, Fiona; and stepfather, Nigel Gray, a retired Scotland Yard homicide chief superintendent, provide plenty of good-humored repartee, comforting embraces, and cups of tea.
In this mystery, much depends upon gothic elements. Doris’ massive mansion contains more than one secret wall, a dumb waiter in deadly disrepair, and dark rooms and staircases galore. Plot advances and suspense too often turn upon unwise actions taken by Day, including unnecessarily entering dark and dangerous places solo and — inexplicably for a pathology professional — unauthorized handling of crime scene evidence. “Uh-oh,” she thinks, when told that “disturbing a crime scene is a crime in itself.”
Often, an overabundance of detail slows action. Do readers really need to know that Day “took care of business in the bathroom” or put on clothes “I’d worn the day before [and] performed my morning ablutions”? Is it necessary to say that a conference room contained “a conference table with chairs around it”?
Despite such flaws, the characters’ good-natured earnestness and lively interactions should carry fans of cozy capers along. After all, Day and her helpmeets are kind souls making a valiant effort to right wrongs, and you can’t help wondering what they will get up to next.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.
A Deadly Homecoming: A Toni Day Mystery
by Jane Bennett Munro
book review by Elizabeth Creel
"'I’ll be ready,’ I said, ‘Death mask and all.'"
Pathologist Toni Day is back at it again with another mystery to solve! Toni and her husband Hal find themselves back in Toni’s hometown of Long Beach, California to help her mother’s best friend Doris find her husband Dick. But when Doris suddenly falls ill and ends up in a coma, Toni and Hal begin to unravel some of the mysteries hidden deep within the historic house that Doris and Dick share—a house that Doris herself believed to be haunted. Secrets become unearthed as Toni explores the house to find the answers... as well as a body and a new murder mystery to solve. Decades upon decades of schemes and serial murders are hidden within the walls of the haunted house. Can Toni solve everything before she herself becomes a victim?
Munro has done it again with another exciting and well-hatched mystery. It is a fun and entertaining story with an extremely enjoyable cast of characters. Sassy Toni Day leads the charge as a fun yet relatable character with a knack for solving mysteries. The tone and pacing match perfectly with the story, leaving you incapable of putting the book down for fear of missing out. All of the twists and turns that Munro weaves beautifully throughout will leave mystery lovers craving more. An exciting and intense story with the unknown paranormal element thrown into the mix for an extra element of fun, this is a mystery that will not only satisfy mystery lovers but will also draw in newcomers to the genre with its energetic and enjoyable characters. Readers will eagerly await the next mystery for Toni Day to solve!
RECOMMENDED by the US Review
A DEADLY HOMECOMING
Jane Bennett Munro
iUniverse (222 pp.)
$22.94 hardcover, $13.99 paperback, $3.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-1-5320-5492-1; October 26, 2018
Jane Bennett Munro (Murder Under the Microscope, 2018, etc.) brings her sleuthing pathologist back to investigate a disappearance in a spooky mansion in this, the sixth novel in the Toni Day mystery series.
This new adventure finds noted murder-solving pathologist Toni Day away from her usual haunt of Twin Falls, Idaho, and back in her hometown of Long Beach, California. At the request of her mother, Toni is in town to solve the disappearance of Dick Campbell, the new husband of her mother’s friend Doris. Doris believes it has something to do with the old MacTavish house that the couple has been living in, a mansion inherited from Dick’s great-uncle. “Voices coming out of nowhere,” Toni’s mother explains of Doris’ experience. “Furniture moving around by itself. Things falling off shelves and breaking. Things disappearing and reappearing. Doris felt as if she were losing her mind, because Dick never noticed anything, never heard the voices, and told her she was just imagining things.” Toni, with the help of her husband, Hal, and stepfather Nigel, explores the house, discovering arsenic that they think might be behind Doris’ recent health problems. The case gets more complicated, however, when Doris falls into a coma. It appears that the old MacTavish house has more surprises than Toni initially suspected, including a dark history that might explain what happened to its inhabitants…and what might happen to Toni as well. Munro’s narration—from the point of view of Toni—is sharp and highly readable, mixing humor with a bit of the macabre. When Toni suggests that the blood found at the bottom of the dumbwaiter shaft points to the fact that someone likely died there, the British Nigel explains that “Actually, that’s called a hoistway….Not a shaft.” With its modern pathology science and its gothic setting, the book makes for a classic haunted-house story with a satisfyingly credible forensic mystery at the heart of it. As with Toni’s past adventures, Munro offers a wonderful bit of escapism.
An entertaining haunted-house mystery with a few modern twists.
PACIFIC BOOK REVIEWS
Title: A Deadly Homecoming - A Toni Day Mystery
Author: Jane Bennett Munro
Reviewed by: Carl Conrad
Pacific Book Review Star
Awarded to Books of Excellent Merit
Pacific Book Review
A Deadly Homecoming, by Jane Bennett Munro is a tightly-packed mystery with lively
dialogue, quirky characters, intricate settings, irresistible intrigue, faultless timing and
just a hint of bold humor which will topple the staid police mind trying to solve this case
like a game of Jenga when the wrong piece is removed.
Jane Bennett Munro, in her A Toni Day Mystery series, pens a fathomless mystery with
layers of scenic beauty and technical expertise which will rival an Agatha Christie novel
for intricate details and clever plot twists. Not only do the forensic skills of her
protagonist investigator, Toni (Antoinette) Day, flash the unerring real insights of a
pathologist – which the author actually is as she suggests tests or follows clues -- but
the often witty banter between Toni and the upturned British nose of her mother – who
invites her to look into the absence of an eccentric friend --- will have you laughing at
the subtle innuendo of both as they sometimes joust each other in one-upsmanship.
Long stretches of dialogue carry the interaction of the characters as they assess the
crime scenes and analyze clues, while intricate details of the rooms and settings in
which events take place provide an ambiance appropriate for mystery or revelation. It is
within the confines of a big, dusty old mansion, with a defective dumbwaiter and lots of
spooky settings in which the author immerses her characters in this book. A secret
staircase and a bottle of suspicious arsenic (the kind not commonly used to kill rats for
50 years, Toni shrewdly observes to add suspicion to its unusual presence) mix many
other clues together to finally expose the deeper parts of this unraveling mystery.
While each chapter opens with a quoted saying by some famous author who adds a
warning or suggestion before beginning the chapter, it is Toni’s relentless accumulation
of clues and background of forensic skills that propels the story with its professionalism
and expertise. “Be sure and ask for fractionalization on the urine because it’s the
inorganic arsenic that’s toxic,” Toni mentions at one point, adding the author’s technical
expertise to the story’s procedural realism.
In a story which will dazzle you with clever insights and continuous suspense, and that
will entertain you as easily with verbal quips as technical jargon, this is a book that
mystery lovers will want to read. A Deadly Homecoming is the story of a pathologist
who goes back to her hometown to solve a complex murder case only to find her own
life precariously hanging in the balance before the mystery is solved. I recommend “A
Deadly Homecoming - A Toni Day Mystery” by Jane Bennett Munro to all readers
looking for a captivating mystery.