“A Bat in the Belfry” (Bantam, $26) by Sarah Graves provides a lively and suspenseful visit to Eastport, a small town on the coast of Maine where everything is going wrong.
With a massive Nor'easter on the way, the bell in the 200-year-old church starts ringing in the middle of the night after having been silent for years. Also, a teenage girl is murdered.
Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree, heroine of a series based on her repairs to her old home, is drawn into the mysteries despite the need to get her antique house ready to withstand the coming storm. She already knew there were problems at the church after her inspection of the steeple showed it to be in great need of repair.
The teenager's body was found in the belfry when someone was sent to stop the clanging bell. She had been bound and gagged and her throat slit. Soon, Jake's houseguest, a friend of her son, is accused of murdering the girl. He is hustled off to the county jail.
Lizzie, a visiting policewoman, in town to search for her missing niece, had seen the suspect near the church after the girl's body was found. She also spotted a gang of bullies who fled the scene when they saw her watching them.
Although Jake and her friend Ellie have sworn off investigating crime, they team with Lizzie to try to solve the murder. When Jake's son disappears, they start a search for him. The storm becomes more violent and threatens to destroy the church steeple.
The murder victim's drunken father decides to take justice into his own hands. As the three sleuths fight wind and flooding, the suspense grows. Will they be defeated by the storm or by the killer?
— Kay Dyer