The Diva Haunts the House (A Domestic Diva Mystery #5)
by Krista Davis
Release Date: September 6, 2011
2011 Berkley Prime Crime
Trade Paperback Edition; 304 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review Copy from Penguin Canada
4 / 5 Stars
Domestic diva Sophie Winston is getting into the Halloween spirit- her decorations for a community haunted house are so good, it's scary. Not to be outdone, rival domestic diva Natasha is throwing a spooktacular Halloween party at her house. But when Sophie arrives, she discovers one of Natasha's guests dead in a Halloween display, and a pale, fanged partygoer fleeing the scene.
The cause of death is not immediately apparent, but the victim does have two puncture wounds on his neck. While Sophie's boyfriend, homicide detective Wolf, investigates, rumors start flying faster than witches on broomsticks. Could the killer be a real vampire-the same one rumored to have lived in Sophie's haunted house back when it was a boardinghouse? Good thing a domestic diva never runs out of garlic...
The Diva Haunts the House, the fifth in the Domestic Diva Series, was a fun, delightful mystery, full of quirky and interesting characters and full of interesting Halloween tidbits and decorating tips that can be useful when planning one's own Halloween party or for upping the decorations on one's house.
As usual, Sophie is a quirky domestic diva whom I can envy to no end. Whipping up sumptuous meals and fabulous treats at a moment's notice, she certainly is a diva in the kitchen; under a lot of stress, cooking meals for others is her way of relaxing and de-stressing. It certainly makes for some entertaining and homey kitchen scenes and I loved the descriptions of her kitchen, especially when the author went to such great pains to contrast Sophie's kitchen with Natasha's. I laughed hysterically when Sophie left her fingerprints deliberately over Natasha's sparkling clean kitchen just because she could; it would certainly have been something I would have done. I'm not sure I really enjoyed Natasha as much in this book as in the previous books however, as she seemed more peevish rather than just plain nasty. I like the nasty Natasha much better and I hope she returns in future books. What I do like is the constant rivalry between the two women, Sophie and Natasha, more on Natasha's part I think than Sophie's, and the dialogue can be very witty and clever.
There were a lot of characters in this novel and it took me a while to keep everyone straight. I took a great liking to Maggie, but I always like the really eccentric ones anyways, and her condition added some pretty interesting moments to the novel. I also liked the addition of the pre-adolescents to the story as Sophie was babysitting her niece and a friend, which added some twists and turns to the story that were different. I was not overly impressed with how everyone brushed off the interactions of twelve-year olds kissing however, as something that is common and I didn't like how that was not addressed. I have a son who is approaching that age-group and I don't think I would have been so laid-back in that situation, seeing twelve-year olds with their lipsticks smudged and knowing what was going on and not really addressing it. Perhaps it's just me, but really, twelve-year olds?
The plot of this book felt like one big Halloween party after another, and some of the things reminded me of my own childhood pranks and things that I had done and been part of. I enjoyed the scenes at the haunted house as I love haunted houses and explore them whenever I can, whether they are made up or are houses that have elements of 'hauntings' to them. The whole setting to the story is an autumnal treat; you can just smell the roasting fires, hear the leaves blowing down the street, see the orange twinkling lights of all the pumpkins, hear the children's screams as they see something spooky, and feel the cold breeze whistling through the air. Although this series doesn't usually revolve arount the supernatural, I did wonder for a while if that was where this was heading, as there was a lot of talk about vampires and ghosts, and even the addition of a medium in one scene made me wonder what was going on. And there is Aunt Faye living in Sophie's house too, of course. Don't get me wrong as I love the supernatural, it's just not an element that is usual in this series. I found there were enough characters and enough twists and turns to keep me interested, and I really enjoyed the plot. I did find the ending to be somewhat abrupt, but abrupt in the sense that you know another book is on the way. And yes, I did enjoy the ending as it made me think, even for a moment, that maybe the supernatural does exist.
The Diva Haunts the House was a worthy addition to the series and introduced a couple of new characters as well. I found the plot to be interesting; the mystery itself was simple but with enough twists and turns to make it convoluted as the many characters did make it difficult to muddle through, and the addition of Halloween did allow for that 'creep' factor. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book in this series and learning more recipes and decorating tips from our favourite domestic diva.