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Love for Sale: A Grace & Favor Mystery    by Jill Churchill Amazon.com order for
Love for Sale
by Jill Churchill
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Jill Churchill's fourth entry in her Grace and Favor mysteries continues to find siblings Lily and Robert Brewster dogged by murder. This time round, they rent some of their rooms to a group that Lily finds suspicious. However, the lure of lavish payment in these lean times of the Great Depression is too strong, and they accept 'Mr. Smith' and his entourage.

Lily's apprehensions are well-founded. One of their mysterious guests is murdered; 'Mr. Smith' turns out to be the controversial radio preacher Brother Mark Luke Goodheart. In the course of the investigations, it becomes clear that he is far from the paragon many of his followers believe him to be. Those who knew him better learned to their sorrow that he was venal, greedy, and violent. Lily is asked to assist Police Chief Howard Walker, whose tiny staff (one deputy and part-time help) cannot cope with the ramifications of investigation into the murder of a national figure. In addition to her normal concerns assisting at the mansion, and helping other members of the community of Voorburg-on-Hudson, she and her brother are filling in for a missing teacher. Various crises pull in the little group of residents of the mansion, including a possibly dead husband, a kidnapping, a missing teacher, and what may be squatters in a local farmhouse.

The mystery in Love for Sale seems almost perfunctory, secondary to the stories of various residents of Voorburg. However, Churchill continues to stir the reader's interest and sympathy as her characters labour to survive during an era when social security and organized aid were far less common than they are today. She shows the human cost of the Depression and the building of the Boulder Dam, as events touch the people of Voorburg. This cozy is a pleasant read although perhaps less masterfully executed than others of Churchill's works.

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