Danger Comes Home
by Judy Alter

Turquoise Morning LLC, 2013. ISBN 978-1-622-37247-8.
Reviewed by Mary Jo Doig
Posted on 09/21/2014

Fiction: Mystery

Kelly O'Connell returns to her devoted readers in Danger Comes Home, the fourth book in the series that began with Skeleton in a Dead Space. In the first novel we met Kelly as a single mom with two small daughters, Maggie, 12, and Em, 9; now she's married to Mike Shandy, detective with the Narcotics Squad, who adores her yet often finds his main objective is keeping Kelly out of trouble.

Kelly is lovable, smart, highly energetic, a great mom and wife, as well as a talented realtor who loves restoring the old Craftsman and other vintage homes in her Fort Worth, Texas neighborhood of Fairmount. She also has a penchant for solving mysteries that keep cropping up in that same neighborhood. Of concern now for Mike is the growing neighborhood drug underground. Kelly, meanwhile, meets the legendary diva, Lorna McDavid, a retired recluse whose Craftsman home is crumbling around her. When Kelly approaches Lorna with an offer to buy and restore her home, she also notices a healthy marijuana patch in the back yard. Could this feisty lady be part of that underground, Kelly wonders. Lorna crankily tells Kelly it's for her personal use only and firmly declines the home purchase offer. Yet, by the end of their conversation, Lorna has talked Kelly into grocery shopping for her each week, not quite the outcome Kelly had hoped for.

Later Kelly hears a noise in the night, tiptoes downstairs and discovers her daughter, Maggie, taking a sandwich out to the guest house, where Maggie has been hiding a classmate who recently ran away from home. Jenny explains: "I don't like my father...I'm not even sure he is my father. He yells at me and scares me. And sometimes I wake in the night and hear men shouting at each other. It happened again the other night, so I left...snuck out the back door. My mom will be worried; Todd—that's what I call him—is probably glad I'm gone. He beats my mom. I'm afraid he'll beat me."

While Mike begins to investigate, Kelly meets Mona, Jenny's mother, and they form a strategy for Jenny's safety, and also become friends as Mona begins to share her future plans with Kelly: leave her abusive relationship, find a new home for herself and Jenny, and open a small gourmet hot dog business to support them.

Meanwhile, Theresa and Joe, Mike and Kelly's young protégés, are struggling and it appears that Joe has re-connected with his former drug friends. Danger Comes Home is filled with Alter's twists and turns, high-speed pace, action, and unexpected surprises as Mike and Kelly, surrounded by their wonderful, eclectic circle of family and friends, engage on separate investigative paths into the Fairmount drug underground. They occasionally cross paths and share information (well, she can share; his is confidential), he warns her to stay out of it, but she must follow her clues, of course. Danger really does come home in the riveting ending to this fun and engaging page-turner that held me to every page.

If you'd like to see some of the wonderful old houses in Kelly O'Connell's world, visit the author's website.

Check out our interview with the author of Danger Comes Home.

Judy Alter is the author of many books for both children and adults. A Ph.D. in English, she taught at Texas Christian University and then, for twenty years, directed TCU Press, the book publishing program of the university. She retired in 2010 and turned her attention to writing contemporary cozy mysteries. She is the author of the Kelly O'Connell Mysteries, the Blue Plate Cafe Mysteries, and The Perfect Coed. Alter is the single parent of four grown children and grandmother of seven. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her Bordoodle, Sophie. Visit her website & her blog.

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