Readers Recs
Deadly Summer Nights

by Vicki Delaney
Berkley, September 2021, $7.99

Another aspect of the cozy mystery that’s vastly underappreciated is, quite simply, pacing. One of the writers whose skill is practically unmatched in this department is Vicki Delany, who launches yet another new series with Deadly Summer Nights.

In this one, set in 1953, she turns her deft hand to the historical mystery. A real stand out, the book is set in a Catskills resort, and Delany captures the feel of the culture—wealthy New York families would spend several weeks of the summer at these resorts, enjoying the many planned activities, entertainments, and fine dining. Grossinger’s was by far the most famous, but the Catskills were full of them, and Delany sets hers at the fictional Haggerman’s. (Sadly, all of them are now defunct). Delany also captures the feel of running and working at a resort. Being a resort brat myself, the work required to run a hotel 24/7 during the season was familiar, and her heroine, Elizabeth Grady, handles the nuts and bolts of things while her mother, a faded but still glam Broadway star, works the “front of the house.”

Elizabeth has barely a minute to herself and when she finds the body of one of her guests, it’s almost more than she can handle. Like any good cozy heroine, however, Elizabeth is intrepid, and, besides, the fate of her resort is at stake. Not only is there a man down on her property, but he was an apparent Communist, and right at the height of the Red Scare. Neither of these things are good for business.

Delany also thoughtfully provides Elizabeth with two possible love interests, as well as a crime that’s suitably tricky and heartbreaking all at the same time. Delany’s gift with character is front and center in this novel, and it’s reflected in the denouement. This is a great start to a new series—vivid, well-written, and snappy.

Robin Agnew
Teri Duerr
September 2021