Buried Under Clutter by Jan Christensen is a page-turning suspenseful mystery. The action starts on the first page and doesn’t stop until the end of the book.
Tina Shaw is a professional organizer who has moved back home to live with her mother and uncle. As she steps outside one day, she hears screaming coming from a neighbor’s house and someone running out of the house. The screaming is from her neighbor’s niece, who informs Tina that her aunt is dead. Mrs. Blackwell, the dead neighbor, is not the favorite person on the street, but she did not deserve to be murdered. When Tina’s mother is arrested for the murder, Tina knows she has to figure out who the real killer is.
There is no shortage of suspects in the murder. There’s Mrs. Blackwell’s nieces, her nephew, her sister and brother, and two con artists that had befriended her. After the reading of the will, there are millions of motives becauses Mrs. Blackwell was very rich and left a lot of money to each suspect. She was also a extreme hoarder and Tina is left five millions dollars that is hers after she declutters the mess in Mrs. Blackwell’s house. This gives Tina the chance to look in the house for clues as to the killer’s identity.
The characters are well developed, well round and three dimensional. Each suspect has their own quirky personalities and secrets, which makes eliminating them as the killer a difficult job. Tina is strong-willed and spunky but she has a softer side when it comes to her family and boyfriend, Hank. Tina’s mother is a bit controlling and has a tendency to tell Tina what she should and should not do, which creates conflict. Tina’s uncle is deaf and likes to use uncommon cliches whenever he can. Even the murder victim, Mrs. Blackwell has a strange personality that comes through in the writing, style, even though we never really meet her, since she’s dead. I learned things about hoarders that I never knew, and I really like that.
The writing style flows easily and this is an easy read. The suspense and mystery kept pulling me along, and I found myself having to read “just a few” more pages until, before I knew it, I was done. I did not figure out who the murderer was until it was revealed at the end of the book.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery. I have read other books by Jan Christensen and I have enjoyed every one. She has a few different series and they are all equally good. This is the second book in this series and I will now have to pick up the first one so I can read more about Tina and her family. I feel this was a stand alone book, though, because I was not lost and feel that I was able to know the characters very well. I hope Jan Christensen just keeps the great books coming.