Book 4 in the Chintz ‘n China cozy mystery series is A Harvest of Bones. I have been reading this series as part of the Cozy Mystery Challenge sponsored by Kris Meyer at her Not Enough Books blog. Like the first and third of the series, this book has a few characteristics that cozy readers might not expect, a sex scene and some language, but I think the author does it on purpose. I’m totally guessing, but I’d imagine from what I have read about her that Galenorn doesn’t want to be classified or have her books classified, so she purposely includes just enough of the unexpected to defy exact categorization. I may be projecting, though.
The product description reads, Tea shop owner and psychic Emerald O’Brien has stumbled onto the ruins of a 50-year-old house rife with supernatural bounty, including a ghost and whispering plants. Now it’s up to Em and her friends to delve into the past and lay the secrets of the dead to rest.
Since I have talked about it in my other posts about this series, I will start with the fact that there is absolutely no tarot in this book at all. With the description above, it certainly doesn’t need to be, but earlier books were marketed with Emerald being a tarot reader (as opposed to psychic). So, again, I missed it. In addition, Emerald was on vacation in this book so her shop, the Chintz ‘n China part, was again not really much of the story, though Em did stop by and check on it every once in a while. And, she had several conversations with an employee about her (ex)boyfriend, though that part of the story wasn’t resolved. And, Harlow’s new baby was conveniently absent.
Having said that, though, the mystery of this book was all-encompassing, and the characters were engaging. The mystery surrounded a ghost, her bones, and her cat along with her aged and mentally unstable lover and his twin sister, a society matron. The running social commentary about class status was interesting, and the connection to such ideas was made relevant at the end of the book in a clever way. We weren’t left thinking that social class was an issue of the past and that time had changed society’s views. We saw a contemporary example as a character made a real connection to her life.
Much of the side plot of this novel, though very much connected to the main mystery, was surrounding a missing pet, momma cat Samantha. A note at the beginning of the novel suggests that Galenorn had lost a pet for a period of two weeks and experienced the emotions and the tribulations of her hero in trying to find that pet. The book ends with a “Charm to Call a Lost Pet Home” and some practical advice for doing so.
I missed some of the characters from the earlier books, specifically the feisty neighbors, but I did appreciate seeing White Deer again. I do look forward to the last book in the series One Hex of a Wedding with a bit of sadness. I am glad to have reached it so I can see the story, but I am sad to see the series end.