Murder Outside the Lines by Krista Davis

Title: Murder Outside the Lines (Pen & Ink Mystery #3)

Author: Krista Davis

Published on: 28 September 2021

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Murder Outside the Lines is the third book in Krista Davis’ Pen & Ink Mystery series.

Halloween is around the corner and Color Me Read bookstore manager Florrie Fox has invited psychic author Hilda Rattenhorst to read from Spooktacular Ghost Stories at the store. The celebrity medium arrives at the store in hysterics, claiming she saw a foot in a rug.

Florrie’s boyfriend and local detective Eric is called in. Florrie and Eric go to the house where Hilda claimed to have seen the foot (in her psychic vision). But there’s nothing at the house – it is empty.

In the middle of her reading, Hilda once again claims to have a vision. This time, she says the murderer is in the store and they are thinking of killing again. Is this a publicity stunt or did Hilda really have a vision of the killer?

Soon after this incident, someone is stabbed. If not for Florrie’s intervention, the killer would have completed their deed. As the victim is recuperating in the hospital, Florrie learns of a two hundred year old story – something to do with love and curse.

Then, a body of a young man is found below the coffin. The coffin was a part of a Halloween decoration. What’s more shocking is, the man’s body is wrapped in a rug and his foot is sticking out…

Did Hilda’s prediction come true? Or, did Hilda kill someone to prove that her visions are for real?

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This was a creepy cozy mystery. I have read a couple of Halloween-themed cozies but this one sent shivers down my spine. Brr!! I did not want to read this book before bedtime – psychic medium, ghosts, seance, murder, folk lore involving curses, screaming skull and scrying mirror… Creepy!!!

I have read the first two books of this series. I love the setting and the characters. We also have a bit of mispers mystery that is unraveled a tad in each installment. Florrie’s boss Professor Maxwell’s daughter went missing two decades ago. Maxwell’s ex-wife (who has rekindled her relationship with the prof) is keen on taking Hilda’s psychic services to find the missing daughter. But this creates fiction between the couple. The professor does not believe in psychics, you see.

We have not one or two but four mysteries here. There’s the screaming skull named Harry – he was sent to Maxwell via parcel. The day the parcel was delivered, the delivery guy was bitten by a snake. The parcel contained a skull and a letter from a man named Ellis. He had sent the skull to the professor for safekeeping.

Then we have the mystery behind an attack on Cyril, an old man. His daughter Roxie helps Jacquie (Maxwell’s ex-wife) out with Hilda’s seances. The third mystery has something to do with “affairs of the heart.” Roxie’s husband Finley is stalked by a woman – he seems ignorant to it but as the story proceeds, we have Florrie wondering if Finley and the mysterious woman had a past and are looking to rekindle their relationship.

The fourth and final mystery is the murder. The body of a staff at the local bakery is killed. His body wrapped in a rug and left below a coffin (a Halloween decor). Hilda had a vision of the murder before it happened… unless, she killed the man and lied about it.

The mysteries kept me guessing till the end. The screaming skull and its changing positions (it moved from its old position every morning) creeped me out! The two hundred year old folk lore filled with curses and lost love didn’t make the creepy screaming skull look handsome!

I loved every bit of this book. Murder Outside the Lines by Krista Davis is a perfect Halloween read. Likable characters. Mysteries peppered with a dash or two of creepiness to keep one guessing until the end.


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