Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Farewell, Miss Zukas

by Jo Dereske
June Creek Books, 2011

Alas, as the bard said, parting is such sweet sorrow. This is the final installment in the Miss Zukas mystery series, starring the indomitable Helma and her colourful sidekick,  Ruth. I will miss them both.

Helma has finally said 'yes' to Chief Gallant's proposal of marriage, hence the double-entendre in the book's title. Miss Zukas is to become Mrs. Gallant, and we are indeed wishing her a bon voyage.

Shortly after the book opens, Miss Zukas finds herself in the middle of a case. Her mother and aunt's apartment has been broken into, and a young man lies dead in the parking lot below, having fallen, or been pushed from, their apartment window. Aunt Em's memory has become increasingly unreliable, and her claim that she herself pushed the victim to his death, seems incredible. Helma's mother, Lillian, was out of the apartment at the time, and is unable to confirm Em's story.

Helma to the rescue! Will she be able to sort out the mystery? Was robbery really the only motive? And if so, why were only minor items apparently stolen? What is the identity of the second thief, and why has he or she been returning all but one of the stolen items? What, if anything, was in Aunt Em's Stelmuze box, and what exactly was she buying from the young Lithuanian man in the apartment building lobby? Does the crime have anything to do with the death of Rimas Klimas, a fellow member of the Lithuanian club to which Aunt Em belonged? And will Mr. Dubois, former make-up artist to the "stars," be able to transform Helma into something beautiful for her wedding day?

Stay tuned, or better yet, read this wonderful finale to Dereske's enchanting series.

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