The sudden death of rich, beautiful Jania Yewbanks, age thirty-three, shocks a Pennsylvania community, but police find no reason to suspect foul play. Hannah Clare is a grieving widow, once married to Lazlo, a private investigator. It has been five months since her husband’s death, and Hannah is getting restless. Life as her grandson’s favorite babysitter is wonderful, but her energy and adventurous spirit make Hannah hunger for more. The death of Mrs. Yewbanks strikes her as another in a string of unexplained deaths. Hannah pushes her grief aside and sets out to get some answers.
Brom, Lazlo’s trusted old friend and co-worker, now runs the agency. When Hannah offers her services, he enthusiastically accepts and assigns her to the Yewbanks case. Hannah poses as a housekeeper named Helga Tivers and is hired by Theodore Yewbanks. The job gives her an opportunity to snoop around to determine if Jania’s death may have been a murder, as Leah Wills (Theodore’s sister) contends. Did Theodore Yewbanks murder his wife?
When Brom is found dead in his office, the mystery intensifies and Hannah scrambles for leads. Could an innocent ad in a local paper provide clues? When Hannah finds copies of the ad in Brom’s office, the Yewbanks’ household, and a nosy neighbor’s house, her suspicion soars and Hannah goes into high gear.
The author’s true understanding of human nature and our innate propensity for both good and evil stands out in Death on Delivery. We are allowed to see into each character’s soul and discover their frailties, vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Because these characters are not one-dimensional, we also discover their strengths, passions and coping mechanisms. Although Hannah Clare has the physical problems of an aging grandmother and still suffers from grief at the loss of her husband, we see her push these aside in her quest for justice. Ted Yewbanks initially appears strong and confident, but when fear strikes he turns to Jell-O. Freda Wartel changes from a doormat into a bulldozer after Clarence murders her cat. Because of the author’s deep insight, readers will come to love each memorable character.
I enjoyed the tone of this mystery as well. This is not a serious, hard-core police work novel, but there is a perfect mix of humor and intensity throughout. You will find yourself smiling at Hannah’s grumblings and smirking at Freda’s passionate musings about her handsome, mysterious neighbor, Ted. Yet your shoulders will tense when the chips are down and it looks like the good guys will never win. This book is hard to put down – an immensely satisfying read.