EASTER BASKET MURDER by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and Barbara Ross; Kensington Publishing, 2024; 330 pages, $27; ISBN 978-1-4967-4023-6.


If the Easter Bunny shows up at your house carrying a knife, duct tape, zip ties and trash bags, don’t let him in. It’s not chocolate he’s after. Instead, curl up on the sofa with these three exciting murder-mystery novellas in “Easter Basket Murder.”

This trio of popular writers have collaborated before with other holiday-themed mysteries — St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween and Christmas — and now the Easter Bunny is the target of their creative minds with cozy mystery stories that are clever, suspenseful, funny and colorful. Best of all, no jelly beans were harmed in these stories.

In “Easter Basket Murder” by Leslie Meier, part-time reporter and full-time snoop Lucy Stone gets caught up in a small-town business promotion contest with a valuable gold egg as the top prize. However, when the egg is stolen, scandals and bad behavior surface involving jealousy, suicide and attempted murder. And Lucy witnesses it all.

In Lee Hollis’ “Death by Easter Egg,” the Easter Bunny really does get killed and it’s up to Bar Harbor’s local restauranteur Haley Powell to find out who robbed the bank, who committed murder, who is blackmailing who, why Mrs. Van Dyke is such a pompous jerk, and convince her two-year-old grandson that he’s not a suspect in any crimes.

Finally, award-winning author Barbara Ross’ smart mystery, “Hopped Along,” is a complex story of murder, double identities, a curious disappearance and a suspect/victim/gentleman’s butler wearing a top hat, gloves and tails. On the family’s remote island egg-hunt, Julia Snowden discovers a body (which disappears minutes later) that really isn’t dead. When a dead body really does show up, Julia and the cops can’t figure out if it’s the same person she found on the island or someone else. And who is this guy?



JUST UP THE ROAD: A YEAR DISCOVERING PEOPLE, PLACES, AND WHAT COMES NEXT IN THE PINE TREE STATE by Chelsea Diehl; Islandport Press, 2023; 225 pages, $18.95; ISBN 978-1-952-14375-5.

Of adventure, American writer William Trogdon wrote: “There are two kinds of adventurers: those who go truly hoping to find adventure and those who go secretly hoping they won’t.” Fortunately, South Portland author Chelsea Diehl is the former.

“Just Up The Road” is Diehl’s first book, a clever life episode chronicling one year of 100 adventures she experienced in Maine. She is a self-made entrepreneur whose business success put her out of work.  She sold her business (quite profitably) and then found herself wondering what to do next. She decided to take a year off, to explore, enjoy and experience Maine’s people, places and things. This is the delightful result.

This is not a travel guide; it’s really a charming collection of impressions as she visits nature preserves, restaurants, stores, scenic vistas, unique sights and meets some fascinating Maine people. Many of her adventures are outdoors, including a lot of hiking trails with useful tips, like Blueberry Mountain in Stow (don’t go in the summer — too many people, too many mosquitoes).

She visits the water buffalo farm in Appleton, walks across the “world’s smallest suspension bridge” in York, noshes at Momo’s Cheesecake Bakery in Ellsworth (open 24 hours, honor system, bring cash), and finds a secluded beach on Mount Desert Island that’s not on any map.

Diehl meets an island caretaker who has no phone and no computer and really likes his own company; a woman in South Portland who happily admits “I’m not from Maine but I got here as fast as I could;” as well as farmers, artists, bakers and brew masters. Learn about the wood-fired sauna in Denmark, the Maine Solor System Model in Presque Isle, and the answer to the question “When is a snowball not a snowcone?

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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