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A Comedy of Heirs (Torie O'Shea Mysteries, No. 3) Mass Market Paperback – August 15, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As a genealogist for a historical society in New Kassel, Mo., Torie O'Shea must examine her own family's history in this third entry in MacPherson's cozy series (A Veiled Antiquity, etc.). As she prepares to host her family's annual Christmas reunion, Torie is sent an anonymous packet of newspaper clippings. They reveal that her great-grandfather Nathaniel Ulysses Keith was shot to death in 1948 on his front porch while his family was inside the house. Because she had been told as a child that Keith died in a hunting accident, Torie now wants to know which story is true. Like a bloodhound on the scent, she scans library microfilm records to prove the veracity of the articles, then visits the county sheriff for further information. What she learns isn't pleasant: her ancestor was a brute to his children and publicly unfaithful to his wife. The list of people who wanted to kill him is as long as it is convincing. Torie's best sources of information, however, are the relatives about to descend on her home. When an aunt tells her that Keith's wife and children sat listening to his groans until he died, Torie is horrified. Could her great-grandmother have sanctioned the murder? Not according to another aunt who was inside the house that day. But since that aunt didn't see the killer, it's up to Torie to ferret out the culprit and clarify her family history. Torie's large, eccentric family provides plenty of entertaining characters, and MacPherson skillfully connects the family's many subplots (pregnancies, sibling rivalries, new romances) while keeping the murder at the center of the intrigue. Although the title promises comedy, there's much more than humor at stake in this heartrending tale of family pride and the coverups to keep it intact. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

-Torie O'Shea takes the first week of December off from her job as genealogist with the local historical society to organize the family's reunion and get a head start on the upcoming holiday season. Amid a house full of relatives, she receives a letter pointing out the fact that her great-grandfather was murdered, and not accidentally killed in a hunting accident. Why has the family done nothing to clear up the murder in all that time? Torie begins to search for the truth through the gathered family members, through research in old newspaper articles, and through notes left from her great-grandmother. An uncle's death adds to her burdens and acts as a red herring, drawing the focus away from the great-grandfather's murder. A drugged cup of tea eventually leads to the killer. MacPherson provides Torie with a large family full of some wacky characters and dreary perfectionists. Her relationships with the myriad family members add background to both the main plot line and details about the other relatives. Memories are everywhere, effortlessly and quickly adding familiarity with the major players. The setting, a Missouri river town, shows that small towns can be blessings as well as irritations to those who live in them. The logical plot and real-to-life characters result in a compelling skeleton-in-the-closet story. Teens interested in their own family's history will appreciate Tori's mystery, and those who are unfamiliar with genealogy may find themselves looking more closely at their own kin.
Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (August 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312971338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312971335
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.6 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #644,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In New Kassel, Missouri, genealogist Torie O'Shea wonders why she agreed to host her family's annual Christmas Party. Seventy relatives will soon invade the small town to attend the festivities. However, Torie's troubles take a wicked twist when an unmarked package of newspaper articles arrives at her house. The clippings claim that her great- uncle Jed murdered her great-grandfather. This contradicts the family account that her ancestor died in a hunting accident.

Though the incident occurred in 1948, Torie feels compelled to learn the truth. Being an expert at shaking a family's tree, Torie investigates her own kin. The documented evidence points to her relative as being an abusive individual commonly hated by all. First hand accounts from her living relatives affirm that information and add even more grisly accounts to the growing facts in which anyone alive five decades ago wanted Torie's great- grandfather dead.

The third Torie O'Shea mystery is a fabulous tale in which the genealogist looks inside her family for answers to an old mystery. The story line lives up to the title, COMEDY OF HEIRS, as the support cast are an eccentric, often humorous bunch. However, the plot actually goes beyond just a simple comedy as Torie never loses sight that murder may have happened with a conspiracy by her beloved family to hide the facts. Rett MacPherson provides readers with an innovative and entertaining who-done-it that readers will fully enjoy.

Harriet Klausner 7/27/99
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Salgal on September 1, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rett has done it again, given us a great little mystery to enjoy. I felt right at home with Tori and her family. Cousins, aunts and uncles crawling all over Tori's house for a family reunion and her reactions made me smile. Of course, Tori's reunion wouldn't be complete without the family skeltons and a murder. I love this series and can't wait to read Misty Mourning. I am hooked!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on September 2, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a nice, easy-going read. The author continues the Tori O'Shea series in fine form. Again, we have wonderful character developement, nice twists...all presented with a wonderful wit.

I highly recommend this one and the rest of the series. Well done!
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By W. Skidmore on August 6, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There is a lot to like about this book, which is the first one I have read by this author. I was drawn to it, 1/ because I love books where there is a decades old mystery to solve, and 2/ I love when that involves genealogy. I almost stopped reading it three times though, because I found the main character extremely annoying. I think the author intended to paint her as a 'zany' character of some sort, (and on that topic, I don't understand WHY it is that most Cozy Mysteries think there "HAS" to be zany comedy mixed in the story) but that part of it REALLY irritated me. Instead of a 30-something educated (historian/genealogist) mother of two (and one on the way), she came across (to me) as an immature, whiney, bitchy, redneck. At first anyway...she did seem to mellow a bit toward the end of the book. I liked all of the other characters though, but it's really sort of important that a reader like the "main" character. Ok, having gotten that out of the way, I'd like to say that I've read a LOT of mysteries in my day and this one had an excellent plot. Everything about this part of it, was top notch. The best parts of the book to me, were the detection scenes where Torie was delving into the past via her intensive research in libaries, old newspapers, etc. I did feel like the ending came together a bit too quickly, and a few things were explained in a rush, or not at all. There were two issues on which I felt I wanted more answers and explanation. But this didn't change my view that it was way, way above average. I'm really glad that I stuck with this one, because I'm looking forward to reading more in this series. I do hope however, that in future books Torie will act more like a classy lady, both in her speech and actions.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Book 3 in the Torie O'Shea genealogical mysteries series.

As she prepares for a reunion of her father's family, genealogist Torie O'Shea gets an anonymous envelope in the mail. It contains newspaper articles about the death of her paternal great-grandfather, Nathaniel Ulysses Keith, who was murdered on his front porch back in 1948--while his wife, children, and grandchildren were trapped inside. But Torie has always been told that Nate died in a hunting accident. So which is it? When her investigation confirms the legitimacy of the articles, Torie knows that her family has been lying to her all her life and embarks on a mission to find out why--and who might have killed Nate Keith. On top of trying to solve a mystery where one of her relatives might have been the killer, Torie gets a bit of unexpected news about herself.

Another great addition to the series. Torie is fun and smart (if aggravating to her husband, daughters, and family), and won't give up before she's solved whatever mystery is in front of her.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is definitely a cozy, because the small town on the Mississippi River and the extended family that MacPherson describes make you want to live that kind of a life. Her detective is Torie, who is a wife and mother particularly family-oriented: she has a major interest in history and in particular, her own family's history (genealogy). She is hosting the annual family reunion for her father's family when the book begins, and the mystery centers around copies of newspaper articles that she receives anonymously in the mail -- articles about the murder of her great-grandfather (who she thought died in an accident). Torie decides to try to discover what happened, but she's haunted by the fear that it will turn out to be a member of her family -- who are in town for this reunion.

I was genuinely surprised by the solution to this crime, although it all made sense. This is my second book by this author and I intend to read more.
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