I've just finished reading Missing Mabel by Nancy Mehl. This book is targeted for the Christian audience. The religious part of the story is very natural and not forced. Hilde Higgins could be one of your friends, maybe someone you know from church.
Take a woman who dresses hair for people who are about to be buried, mix it with a boarding house full of people, some good friends, a long lost friend, and a new friend and you have the beginning of a good book. No blood, no horror, no steamy scenes, just a good puzzle to work out.
Hilde takes her job at the town mortuaries seriously. Using a photo of the deceased as her guide, she does her best to make her clients look just like the person in the photo. Sometimes she even whispers in their ear “You look really nice.” Sweet of her, isn’t it?
On one job, she has only a quick glimpse of the deceased before the body is whisked back to the morgue for an autopsy requested by the grandson. When the body is returned for burial, Hilde takes a good look at the photo, comparing it with the body, and announces “This isn’t Mabel!” How could she possibly tell because her pet dog is shown in front of Mabel's face. Hilde is sure it isn't Mabel because the body has a side part and the photo shows it parted in the middle. She knows people of Mabel’s age don’t usually change the part of their hair.
No one will listen to her concerns and the body is buried as Mabel’s. Hilde expresses her concern, first to her friends, and then to Mabel’s family. No one seems concerned, though a few friends help her in her investigation. Hilde is sure the family wouldn't want the wrong person in Mabel's grave - and who is the person being buried anyway?
Along the way Hilde makes some new friends and solves the mystery of who killed Mabel, proving first that Mabel was murdered, then that Mabel is not the person the family buried.
Congratulations to Nancy Mehl for constructing a murder with no easy answers, and a lot of mystery. I enjoyed the book and I recommend it as a great read.
Missing Mabel can be purchased from amazon.com or from Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OK 44683.