“A Death in the Family: An Erica Coleman Mystery” by Marlene Bateman is a suspenseful murder-mystery with anticipated recipes. Private investigator and food-lover, Erica Coleman, is asked to investigate the family business by the gutsy matriarch, Blanche Coleman. Upon Blanche’s unexpected and untimely death, Erica is left with more questions than answers.
Tensions rise in the family upon the reading of Blanche’s will and autopsy results. Erica tries to butter up local law enforcement by using her knack for cooking to gather clues. The mystery takes a dark turn when Blanche’s secluded sister, Martha, becomes the next victim. As Erica gathers more clues and finds herself drawing closer to the truth, she narrowly escapes becoming the third victim.
The two murders are nongraphic and not descriptive in nature, and there is mild violence throughout the novel. The violence increases when the murderer is revealed and kidnaps the main character. The language throughout is clean and any romance doesn't go beyond kissing.
The main characters are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who regularly attend their Sunday church meetings. Although the novel is primarily set in scenic Oregon, Erica Coleman and her family are referenced to visiting from Farmington.
The recipes to the meals Erica makes throughout the book are included in an appendix at the end of the novel for the readers to enjoy.
Marlene Bateman was born in Salt Lake City and grew up in Sandy. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Utah. She lives in North Salt Lake. Bateman has been published in magazines, newspapers and has previously written several nonfiction books.
Micah Klug graduated with her bachelor’s degree in health care administration from Brigham Young University-Idaho. She currently resides in Rexburg, Idaho.