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The Errand Boy, Don Bredes’ third mystery starring Hector Bellevance (following Cold Comfort and The Fifth Season), is an intelligent cozy set in the farmlands of Vermont. Previously a Boston homicide detective, Hector has settled into farming with his pregnant wife Wilma and their strong-willed eleven-year-old daughter Myra – they sell fruit and vegetables locally. He also acts as the Tipton town constable. It’s June in Vermont when this story opens, and it continues through the summer.

One Saturday, a yellow car drives right at Hector and his wife, and the accident leaves Wilma in a coma for most of what follows. The driver is a Canadian, Sebastian Tuttle. He and his brother Jeremy had set up a controversial egg production eyesore near Tipton, and now try to avoid liability for the accident. The Egg Works’ neighbors are up in arms about the factory, especially since a plague of flies descended on their farms. A lawsuit is pending.

After Hector has an altercation with Seb Tuttle, the latter is found dead. The constable is hired by the victim’s father (who also offers to pay Wilma’s medical bills) to find the killer. The investigation leads him into conflict with bikers, who are rumored to be importing crystal meth, and with state police. Hector gets information from various neighbors, including Kandi, a young woman on parole after being jailed for a relationship with a minor. Hector seems like a pretty cerebral guy, who takes even his wife’s coma calmly. But when someone attempts to firebomb his house and his daughter is kidnapped, even he loses his cool.

The Errand Boy is an intriguing mystery, enriched by its Vermont surroundings and by such philosophic musings as Hector makes about how Myra would view events by wintertime: her ‘mind by then would have cushioned this hard incident in layers of reflection one upon the other until she’d turned it into something smooth and valuable, like an oyster its bit of sand.

— Reviewed by Hilary Williamson¬†(Bookloons.com)

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