Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.
This week I’m revisiting To Helen Back, an audiobook narrated by Joyce Bean. It was released by Harper Audio in 2015.
Milton Grone is widely disliked, if not actively hated, by the residents of the small town of River Bend, Illinois. His treatment of ex-wife Delilah, and new, much younger wife Shotsie leaves a lot to be desired. He wants nothing to do with his and Delilah’s two sons and refuses to pay alimony. He’s miserly and penny-pinching despite being quite well off. Grone’s next door neighbour, Felicity Timmons, bears the brunt of his boorish behaviour and harassment. He’s also coming under fire from most of the residents for selling land, which was promised to the townspeople, to developers who want to build a water park.
When Grone is found dead, from what first appears to be a heart attack but which after the autopsy is believed to be murder, the suspects are plentiful. Unfortunately for Sheriff Frank Biddle they all seem to have an alibi in the form of the town hall meeting.
He’d barely taken a bite of the cold meat loaf when he heard a noise beyond the window, like a critter prowling in the trash. “Damned old woman’s cat,” he muttered, and picked up his shotgun. Felicity Timmons caused him hell enough without his having to put up with that furry beast of hers making a mess of his garbage……
He cocked his gun with a click. He heard the noise again and hesitated. Sure didn’t sound like a cat; it seemed bigger than that. Were those footsteps coming up behind him? He spun around in time to see the shadow that lunged at him, but only that. His gun fell from his hands to the ground, going off as it hit the dirt.
Helen Evans, good friend of Felicity Timmons, decides to sift through all the clues and potential suspects when Felicity herself is questioned by the Sheriff. This proves to be anything but simple, even the Preacher is not without cause.
Really good, detailed descriptions of the eccentric and likeable characters, and River Bend itself, give a good visual for the story. Helen is a mature lady who likes solving puzzles, although this particular puzzle is not quite what she’s used to. She’s self effacing but takes in everything around her and somehow, quietly manages to be involved in developments.
The story is woven together well, with lots of diversions and misleading clues. An easy, witty and very enjoyable cozy mystery, narrated extremely well by Joyce Bean.
When Milton Grone turns up dead in tiny River Bend, Illinois, nearly all the would-be suspects have the perfect alibi: attending Thursday night’s town meeting. And as Milton was hardly beloved, plenty of folks had a reason to do him in.
Though most of River Bend would rather reward the killer than hang him, Sheriff Biddle’s not about to let this one go – and neither is Helen Evans. With a penchant for puzzles and an ear for innuendo, Helen quickly fingers the culprit before Biddle puts the wrong suspect in jail.