Murder at the PTA by Laura Alden.*
Beth Kennedy is a divorced mother of two who owns a children bookstore in the small town of Rynwood, Wisconsin. So when her best friend Marina suggests that Beth might want to run for the position of PTA secretary, her initial response is that she doesn't have the time. But Marina finally talks her into it, and Beth is unsurprised when she finds out she's the only candidate, since it's well-known that the PTA is a hotbed of dissension.
But at her first meeting, the unpleasant (and generally unpopular) principal of the school insists on pushing through a privately funded addition to the school without taking a vote, even she is taken aback. Beth is even more shocked when Principal Agnes Mephisto is found at home a few days later with her head bashed in.
After an emergency meeting of the PTA, Beth is elected to contact Agnes' next-of-kin, her sister Gloria. Gloria asks Beth to check Agnes' house, suddenly Beth finds herself wanting to find out why Agnes was so disliked and what prompted someone to kill her so violently.
As a single mother trying to manage with two children under 12 who is also trying to keep a small business afloat, Beth is an eminently believable character, as are the descriptions of the extremely insular nature of a small suburban town.
This is an absorbing, well-written story. The cover indicates that this is the first in a series, though there is no indication of when further books might appear. Out of the plethora of new mysteries that are released each season, this one certainly deserves to continue.
*Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy!