Death on a Deadline (A Homefront News Mystery)
by Joyce St. Anthony
About Death on a Deadline
Death on a Deadline (A Homefront News Mystery)
Historical Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Pennsylvania
Crooked Lane Books (November 8, 2022)
Hardcover : 288 pages
ISBN-10 : 1639101152
ISBN-13 : 978-1639101153
Digital ASIN : B09S3GBPM4
Editor-in-chief Irene Ingram pencils in her newest mystery in Joyce St. Anthony’s second captivating Homefront News mystery, perfect for fans of Anne Perry and Rhys Bowen.
As World War II rages in Europe and the Pacific, the small town of Progress is doing its part for the soldiers in the field with a war bond drive at the annual county fair. Town gossip Ava Dempsey rumors that Clark Gable will be among the participating stars. Instead of Gable, the headliner is Freddie Harrison, a B-movie star. When Freddie turns up dead in the dunk tank, Irene Ingram, editor-in-chief of The Progress Herald, starts chasing the real headline.
There are plenty of suspects and little evidence. Ava’s sister Angel, who was married to the dead actor, is the most obvious. The couple had argued about his affair with the young starlet Belinda Fox, and Angel was the last person to see Freddie alive.
Irene discovers there’s more than one person who might have wanted Freddie dead. As Irene draws on her well-honed reporter’s instincts to find the killer—nothing is what it seems in Progress, and now her own deadline could be right around the corner.
June 1942 – Many folks including Irene Ingram’s fiance, Bill, and father are doing their part in the war effort, her father as a news correspondent, and Bill is still in training and waiting to be deployed. On the homefront in Progress, Pennsylvania that means Irene has stepped into her father’s shoes as editor-in-chief of The Progress Herald and Rally Johnson 4F and ineligible to serve has been hired to take Bill’s place at the police station. Irene’s future father-in-law is the chief of police and is missing Bill as well but both are kept very busy by the happenings in Progress.
In tandem with the county fair this year, there is a war bond drive complete with a visit from some movie stars from the Hollywood Victory Committee. Ava Dempsey hears all the scuttlebutt and is only too happy to share that Clark Gable is going to be one of those stars. Apparently, her “source” was wrong because Freddie Harrison, a B-list actor is the headliner for the Progress event and his appearances are cut short when he is found dead in the dunk tank.
Turns out there are plenty of suspects. His wife Angel who just happens to be Ava Dempsey’s sister and an actress traveling with the war bonds group tops the list. Freddie was absolutely clueless when she left him after finding out he was having an affair with Belinda Fox, a young starlet also traveling with the group from Hollywood. Truthfully anyone in the group could have killed the man. Irene wants to get the scoop on the murder so using her reporter skills she digs in to find the truth. She just needs to meet the paper’s deadline before she reaches the killer’s . . .
Irene Ingram is an excellent protagonist. She is smart, thoughtful, and well-liked by almost everyone she meets. She takes her obligations seriously and excels at running the newspaper showing critics that she is a strong woman capable of doing the same job as a man.
The author has surrounded Irene with a great cast of secondary characters. She works with her best friend and sleuthing partner Peggy, who is dating one of the other reporters. Her cousin also works for the paper. He was upset that the top job went to Irene instead of him but is coming around to see she was the right choice. She lives with her mother and sister and they rent one bedroom out to a boarder. But the relationship I love is the one between Irene and Police Chief Walt Turner (Dad), her future father-in-law. They work together and exchange information and ideas to solve the case. They are so comfortable with each other. They try to have lunch together often but most times his work or hers pulls them away.
The Hollywood crowd was interesting in their own right. All were cleverly written and all of them had secrets to be revealed. Irene had trouble getting a true read on them because, let’s face it, they are actors. One person slipped into a different character every time they talked. One was very entitled and another tried to be helpful but Irene really didn’t know who to trust.
The mystery was a fun one to follow. Freddie Harrison was a conniving man who made a lot of enemies. A key piece of evidence firmed up the real suspects and their motives. Then it took more sleuthing to make the clues fall into place. I did enjoy the reveal! The part Irene played had me nervous but then I was cheering.
The author includes a newspaper headline at the start of each chapter. Those and the talk in the newsroom and the assignments of articles to each reporter keep readers grounded in the fact that while there may be excitement in Progress there is a war happening in the world. In this story, the war comes home to Progress when Western Union arrives with the dreaded news no one wants to hear. It is easy to see the author did her research because she captures the happenings and lifestyles of the time so well.
Strong, realistic characters, a very intriguing mystery, and a true picture of small-town life all make Death on Deadline is a fantastic addition to this series. It kept me fully entertained from the beginning to the end. While this book can be read as a stand-alone I do recommend reading Front Page Murder first to get to know these characters from the start.
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About Joyce St. Anthony
Joyce St. Anthony was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. In addition to the Homefront News Mysteries, she is the author of the Brewing Trouble Mysteries and the upcoming Cider House Mysteries written under her own name, Joyce Tremel. She lives in the beautiful Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania with her husband.
Great Escapes Praise for Death on a Deadline (A Homefront News Mystery)
by Joyce St. Anthony
If you’re a fan of historical cozy mystery books, you will really enjoy this captivating new title in the Homefront News Mystery series.
~Christy’s Cozy Corners
Death on a Deadline is historical fiction with depth, mystery, and a little romance that left me on the edge of my seat more than once. But I still want more! I look forward to reading more books in this series.
From the chapter-opening news headlines to the everyday details that make the time period – and the characters – come alive…Can’t wait to tag along with the intrepid Irene on more of her investigative adventures!
~Reading is my Superpower
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”