Being the temporary police chief of Red Jacket, Michigan, is no sinecure. Hatti Lehtinen, separated from her lawyer husband, Jace Night Wind, is running a combination bait and knitting shop. When her stepfather is hospitalized, she takes on his job, never expecting a murder. The town, with its mostly Finnish heritage, is buzzing with preparations for Pikkujoulu, a pre-Christmas festival that may win them a stop on the Christmas train, which would be a welcome boost for the moribund local economy. Heading the effort is Hatti's stepfather's best friend, childless funeral director Arvo Maki, who has made a major mistake and several enemies by naming Liisa Pelonen, a beautiful young girl he and his wife took in, as the yearly parade's St. Lucy. When Liisa is found dead in the Makis' sauna, Hatti steps up to investigate. Suddenly Jace arrives on her doorstep, responding to a call from his grandfather Chief Joseph, who told him that his younger brother Reid had been involved with Liisa. Jace insists that Reid is innocent even though he has a record. Sparks fly as the estranged couple is forced to work together to prove Reid's innocence. Even though the doting Makis thought she was perfect, Liisa was far from popular. It turns out that she was pregnant, in line to inherit several million dollars and planning to leave Red Jacket. Given so many perfectly good motives for murder, Hatti has her hands full. Yost (For Better or Hearse, 2012) provides an entertaining combination of mystery and romance with a dose of Finnish tradition. --Kirkus Review
The Nordic background will appeal to those who enjoy Kathleen Ernst s Chloe Ellefson mysteries, which also concern Norwegian Americans.
Hoping to increase tourism, the residents of Red Jacket, Michigan, on the Keweenaw Peninsula, are gearing up for the St. Lucy s Day parade and the Pikkujoulu (Little Christmas) festival, events designed to earn the town a stop on the Keweenaw Snow Train. When town father Arvo Maki picks his protégé, Liisa Pelonen, as this year s St. Lucy, bypassing the traditional method of choosing a young woman for the coveted position, he angers many in the town. When Liisa is found dead, acting police chief Hatti Lehtinen investigates. However, Hatti, owner of Bait & Stitch, the local fishing and knitting shop, is quickly out of her depth and enlists the aid of her sister, cousin, and good friend, along with her estranged husband, Jace Night Wind, whose half-brother is the prime suspect. Details of Finnish culture and small-town life frame Hatti s investigation, related in the first person. The Nordic background will appeal to those who enjoy Kathleen Ernst s Chloe Ellefson mysteries, which also concern Norwegian Americans. --Booklist Review