BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Murders at Astaire Castle’: The Body Count Is Impressive in Latest Mac Faraday Mystery

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'The Murders at Astaire Castle': The Body Count Is Impressive in Latest Mac Faraday Mystery

Lauren Carr will have to work very hard to top the body count in the fifth book in the Mac Faraday series set in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, “The Murders at Astaire Castle” (Acorn Book Services, available at Amazon.com, CreateSpace, Barnes and Noble and other online book sources and book stores;  284 pages,  $12.99, also available as an eBook).

To catch readers up on what’s happening with Mac, Archie, David, Gnarly and all the other characters in Maryland’s westernmost county I’m including the link to my review of the fourth Faraday mystery  “Blast from the Past”:  http://www.huntingtonnews.net/55939

Carr, one of the most entertaining writers I’ve encountered, could have titled the book “Mac Faraday Meets the Wolf Man” because the latest mystery centers on a haunted castle at the top of Spencer Mountain, a property the former DC police officer turned multimillionaire didn’t even know about.

Mac, the love child of the bestselling mystery writer Robin Spencer, learns about the castle when he goes in search of an elderly woman who wandered away from the luxury resort Mac inherited from the writer. He accompanies his half-brother David O’Callaghan (they have the same father, former Spencer police chief Patrick O’ Callaghan; fortunately Carr provides a front-of-the book cast of characters in this and all her novels– something every writer should do.)

Police Chief David O’ Callaghan should know better than to tell his older brother not to do something like warning him away from the locked up castle, after the wandering elderly guest is found not far from Spencer Manor.

It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out!

Topping the list of the ten most haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago—and Mac Faraday owns it, along with all the other property bordering Maryland’s largest lake, Deep Creek Lake. (Like all the other lakes in Maryland and adjacent West Virginia, it’s really a reservoir impoundment, not a natural lake).

In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.

Gnarly, the independent beyond belief German Shepherd, continues to provide  comic relief in “The Murders at Astaire Castle” and he has a new companion in Molly, a white German Shepherd who’s the exact opposite of Gnarly. Well behaved Molly is the service dog of Chelsea Adams, who has arrived in Spencer after her long-lost brother Riley Adams is discovered. More than this I won’t reveal, because the novel is one long spoiler. Carr’s trademark insufferable rich people who annoy the hell out of Mac Faraday are part of the tapestry of the novel.

“Halloween has always been a fun time,” author Lauren Carr explains in a note at the beginning of her fifth Mac Faraday mystery. “It’s the time to break out and be someone else. As a child, I would pretend to be one of the Bobbsey Twins searching for clues to lead me to a secret treasure. If I was lucky, it was made up of chocolate. As a teenager, I was Nancy Drew. Always, when October rolled around, I craved mysteries with something extra added—something beyond the normal—something supernatural. As an author, I couldn’t resist taking this one Mac Faraday Mystery on a scary Halloween adventure.”

Summing up: “The Murders at Astaire Castle” is a page-turner that resounds with Halloween season chills and thrills, along with plot twists as jagged as the shoreline of Deep Creek Lake.

About the Author

Lauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which take place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. “It’s Murder, My Son”, “Old Loves Die Hard”, “Shades of Murder”, and “Blast from the Past” have all been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. “The Murders at Astaire Castle” is the fifth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series. The book contains a teaser excerpt from  the sixth installment, “The Lady Who Cried Murder”,  which will be released in November 2013. Look for my review.

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