Well-Offed in Vermont
by Amy Patricia Mead
(Midnight Ink, $14.95, NV) ISBN 978-0-7387-2590-1
Nick and Stella Buckley have just left their Manhattan apartment and Stella, her job as a medieval textiles curator at a museum, for the wilds of Vermont where Nick can pursue his dream job as a forest ranger in a real forest.

Stella is trying to be a good sport for Nick's sake when they arrive at their 1890 farmhouse only to find the dead body of Allen Weston, the man who was supposed to be replacing their well pump. Now Nick and Stella find themselves at the rural hunting cabin of the brother of local coffee shop owner Alma Deville without running water and electricity.

While Alma is being very hospitable between letting them stay at the cabin and using her doublewide to shower up in the morning, the Buckleys are very anxious to move into their new home and start their new life. They realize the only way they are going to get back into their house is if they help local sheriff Charlie Mills find out who killed Weston.

Even though the Buckleys are not locals and have a reputation of being flatlanders, the locals are plenty willing to say bad things about Weston and Nick and Stella find many of them have a motive to want him dead. When a second person dies and all evidence points in one direction, Nick and Stella realize that even if the murder charge doesn't stick, more than one life will be ruined by what they have unwittingly uncovered.

Nick and Stella are a welcome addition to the ranks of amateur sleuths. As a couple, they complement each other well; knowing each other's strengths, they make a formidable team as they interview and dig for gossip among their new neighbors. They are removed enough to see things that locals who lived among each other for many years might miss, such as Mills' obvious attraction to and pining for Alma. There are plenty of people with a motive to want Weston dead, and it is Stella's special skill set that puts all the pieces together in the end and clears the way for the Buckleys to begin the next chapter in their lives.

Autumn in Vermont adds a splash of color and obstacles of tourists and tour buses add to the local color and atmosphere so different from what Nick and Stella are used to.

--Jennifer MonahanWinberry

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