The reason why I'm quite addicted to this series is not because of the mystery at hand. Not that the mysteries in this series are boring! To the contrary, they are usually interesting ones, even if you sometimes wonder why no one else except Torie can ever solve these mysteries. No, the reason why I like this series is because of Tories' smart aleck asides and the wry humour with which Rett MacPherson writes these Torie O'Shea novels.
Torie O'Shea, a genealogist from the small town of New Kassell, Missouri, is still coping with a hormonal overload from having recently given birth to a baby boy, as well as having just seen her mother married off to New Kassell's sheriff, Colin Brooke (and her own private nemesis); when she's approached by the town's matriarch, Sylvia Pershing, to write a biography about Catherine Finch. Finch, a denizen of New Kassell was a popular jazz singer from '30s, and has recently passed away. Coincidentally, it turns out that the sheriff, who also happens to be a budding antique dealer, has bought the contents of Catherine's estate. Because of a time constraint the sheriff needs to sort out what he's bought right away. However the sheriff is about to leave for his honeymoon, and so he asks Torie to go through Catherine's effects and sort out the junk from the valuable for him. It's an opportunity that Torie cannot say no to, esp given that she's already agreed to write Catherine's biography.
Doing some basic research into Catherine's history Torie discovers that Catherine suffered a tragedy that she never recovered from -- her infant son was kidnapped from his cradle in 1938, and he was never found, dead or alive. It's a tragedy that resonates with Torie, and she's soon becomes immersed in trying to discover what happened to the Finch baby. And then a stranger is found dead in one of the abandoned houses in New Kassell, who turns out to be one of Catherine's relations. Could the man's presence have anything to do with the fact that Catherine's estate is being sorted out? And could he have had information about the missing Finch heir? Not to worry: you just know that Torie, who cannot help but poke her nose into everything, will discover all!
Torie O'Shea is a rarity in the mystery novel world in that Rett MacPherson presents her to us warts and all. Torie is not perfect -- she frequently acts instinctively without thinking things through, and she is a busybody. She just has to know what's going on. The fact that Torie admits this basic fact about herself, allows us to empathise with, and to like her. As I noted before however, while the mysteries in this series are interesting and fun, they are rather straight forward. And after a while you have to wonder why only Torie has the imagination and the curiosity to get to the bottom of what's going on -- in this case what really happened to the Finch baby. But that is exactly what makes this series (and book) so readable: that Torie has the guts and determination to see things through to the bitter end. And that is why I will always be on the library waiting list for future Torie O'Shea books.