Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen’s beloved, tart-tongued neighbor Aunt Tally is about to turn the big 1-0-0, and the alumnae association of Tally’s alma mater is throwing a big fund-raising bash in her honor. The plan is to celebrate Tally’s centennial and recoup some much-needed school revenue lost in the cratered economy, but when a killer blizzard bears down and a board member goes missing, it falls to Harry and her menagerie of mystery solvers to track down the truth behind what is rapidly becoming a perfect storm of embezzlement, political corruption, and the kind of long-smoldering enmity that can explode into murder. Does the key lie in a forty-year-old unsolved death? If so, Harry and her four-legged friends better find it or—even at a hundred years old—Aunt Tally may outlive them all.
Shady money dealings fuel Brown's solid 18th mystery featuring Mary Minor Haristeen and her cat pal, Sneaky Pie (after 2008's Santa Clawed). Aunt Talley Urquhart is looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday at her Fulton, Mo., alma mater, real-life William Woods University, but all is not well at WWU. Stockbroker Flo Langston, class of '74, is sure her hated classmate, Mariah D'Angelo, who heads the WWU Alumnae Association, has mishandled university funds. Mariah misses Aunt Talley's party and vanishes. Then someone shoots Flo dead at home in St. Louis after Flo reveals that Mariah has been selling fake high-end watches. Taunting messages (e.g., “Catch me if you can”) begin arriving in computer in-boxes of various WWU alumnae, including Inez Carpenter, Aunt Talley's 98-year-old best friend. Faithful fans already familiar with the characters will enjoy the cozy antics, but others may struggle to pay attention until people start dying. (Apr.)