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Bourke’s Bookshelf: Curl up with a cozy mystery

This week's featured novel is "Eagles Cove" by Elke Sinclair, a writing duo from Minnesota.

"Eagles Cove" by Elke Sinclair
"Eagles Cove" is the first Finders mystery by Elke Sinclair, the pen name of writing duo Kate Walsh and Linda Driscoll. Both writers are from Minnesota.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch
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It’s officially spooky season, and I’m leaning into it.

Theresa Bourke headshot

I’ve never been the sort of person to get overly excited about Halloween itself, but I absolutely love cool weather, changing leaves and curling up with fuzzy socks, a hot beverage and a good mystery novel.

This month, I invite you to join me as I explore the eerie side of what Minnesota authors have to offer. I’ll bring you recommendations of mysterious tales by authors from around the state.

And for our younger readers, I’ll throw in a few suggestions to get into the spooky spirit.

‘Eagles Cove’ by Elke Sinclair

Elke Sinclair is the pen name of writing team Brainerd native Kate Walsh and Twin Cities writer Linda Driscoll.

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In a suspenseful tale of two supposed murders a small-town Minnesota resort, the two create a cozy mystery — a compelling read that’s just what I was looking for on a cool fall night.

Marley, Nan, Eva, Ray and Sean aren’t your typical sleuths. They’re a team of older adults that call themselves The Finders, ever since they helped police solve a tricky case back in their teenage years. Now, they get called in every now and then when Eva’s daughter, who works for the St. Paul Police Department, thinks they might be of use.

Two women went missing exactly a year apart from Eagle’s Cove Resort, situated near Merrifield. Neither the women’s bodies nor their cars were ever found, but Nan and Marley think they might be able to crack the case if they book a week’s stay in the same cabin at the resort where the women were last seen. So the two trek up to the Brainerd lakes area and acquaint themselves with the resort that now has a dark reputation and the cast of characters who come and go from the secluded area.

And everyone is a suspect.

Nan and Marley must work quickly to uncover the truth before they suffer the same fate as the other two women who stayed in Cabin 8.

Kids pick: ‘Bunnicula’ by Deborah and James Howe

Clearly I missed out on a real classic with not having read or even heard of “Bunnincula” as a kid. I mean, talking pets, a cat who reads classic literature and a vampire rabbit? What more could a kid ask for in a book?

Covers of two "Bunnicula" books
The "Bunnicula" series by James and Deborah Howe tell the story of a vampire bunny named Bunnicula.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

A co-worker brought this book to my attention a few months ago, and I figured it would be a perfect feature for my spooky October reads.

Family dog Harold narrates the tale about the Monroe family, who rescues an orphaned rabbit on a dark, stormy night. The longer the rabbit is there, the more skeptical Chester the cat becomes. The fluffy little guy seems to only be awake at night, appears to have fangs instead of traditional rabbit teeth, and he just has to be behind the mysterious phenomenon of all the family’s vegetables turning white. All of these things, according to Chetser’s reading, point to vampire. Heck, the family even found him at a “Dracula” movie.

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The problem?

No one believes him. Harold easily brushes him off, while the human family doesn’t understand Chester’s bizarre behavior.

Recommended for kids about 8-12, this short novel is the perfect mix of mysterious, funny and quirky to keep young readers interested and entertained. The illustrations by Alan Daniel are a fantastic addition, helping to bring the tale alive.

Plus, who doesn’t want to read a story told by a lovable, slightly simple-minded dog whose biggest worry is whether his 8-year-old human will share his Friday night cupcakes.

‘Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow’

After the initial “Bunnicula” book — James Howe wrote with wife Deborah, who passed away from cancer before it was published — Howe went on to write several other novels detailing life in the Monroe house with the vampire bunny. The most recent, written in 2006, is “Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow.”

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While nearly four decades passed from the first book to this latest one (with several others in between), the Monroe children have only aged a couple years and are still surrounded by their eccentric pets, including a new addition — Howie, a wirehaired dachshund puppy.

Everyone is thrilled when 12-year-old Peter wins a contest after writing to the author of his favorite book series — The FleshCrawlers. Author M.T. Graves is actually going to speak at his school and stay at his house. Graves seemed especially interested in the “excellently weird” band of pets in the Monroe family and wants to meet them all, especially Bunnicula. And, of course, he’s going to bring Edgar Allan Crow, his trusty sidekick and muse, who, as I’m sure you can guess, is a crow.

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But M.T. Graves is nothing like anyone was expecting. With his long black hair, bush eyebrows, ashen skin and a black cape, it’s no wonder he seemed interested in a vampire bunny. Chester the cat is up to his old antics, convinced Graves and Edgar Allan Crow are up to no good.

Howe’s most recent tale is another delightfully dark, ominous and silly story full of hilarious misunderstandings and loveable pets, with just the right amount of suspense.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .

Related Topics: BOOKS
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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