Murder at the Tremont HouseMurder at Tremont House by Judy Alter is the second book in the “Blue Plate Café” mystery series. Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press, February 2014

A journalist comes to Wheeler, Texas, intent on revealing the town’s secrets. Instead she finds a stubborn advocate of the town in Kate Chambers, and the tangled story leads to murder, kidnapping and a high-speed chase.

When free-lance journalist Sara Jo Cavanaugh comes to Wheeler to do an in-depth study of Kate’s town for a feature on small-town America, Kate senses she will be trouble. Sara Jo stays at her sister Donna’s B&B, The Tremont House, and unwittingly drives a further wedge into Donna’s marriage to Wheeler’s mayor Tom Bryson. And soon she’s spending way too much time interviewing high school students, one young athlete in particular. Police chief Rick Samuels ignores Kate’s instinct, but lawyer David Clinkscales, her former boss from Dallas, takes it more seriously.

Sara Jo arouses animosity in Wheeler with the personal, intrusive questions she asks, and when she is found murdered, the list of suspects is long. But Kate heads the list, and she must clear her name, with the help of David and Rick. A second murder confirms that someone is desperate, and now Rick is convinced Kate is in danger.

There’s a love triangle, a cooking school, a kidnapping, a broken marriage, and a lot of adventure before the threads of this mystery are untangled and Wheeler can go back to being a peaceful small town. If it ever does.

Judy had created a warm and friendly mystery that reeks of southern charm despite a murderous bent in Wheeler, Texas. The tone is very comfortable in this steady-paced drama where Kate puts her instincts to good use when she becomes a prime suspect. I like the set-up of the story and the way it flows from chapter to chapter culminating in the apprehension of a killer. This was a good read and I can’t wait to read the next book in this likable series.

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