Locks & Cream Cheese opened with the death of the Marche House mansion caretaker during the theft of a multi-million dollar painting. The Marche family donated the mansion and its contents for area residents to enjoy after the death of Hubert Marche the previous year. The local township sought volunteers to help staff and maintain the museum, thus the Historical Society formed. Various treasures from the museum were auctioned off to raise money for upkeep with the stipulation the items would remain in the museum.
At a meeting prior to the grand opening, members shared research they found regarding the mansion and several key items. Psychoanalyst Dr. Avi Kepple founding member of the town's Historical Society hosted the meeting in his home. After he and other members shared the history of the Marche mansion and that of many of its valuable contents, he found himself the victim of a daring theft of an antique jeweled key. In addition, the family reels with the mysterious locked-room death of Kepple’s nephew Victor who was visiting at the time.
Assigned the case is Paco LeSoto, retired Baltimore detective who now works part-time in the local police department in Black Rain Corners, Maryland, where he now lives. Located on Chesapeake Bay, the small town hosts a large number of wealthy inhabitants providing easy targets for unscrupulous thieves.
When further thefts and murders take place, Paco steps up the pace of the investigation finding an intriguing variety of suspects. What Paco does not anticipate is his growing attraction to Molly, the roly-poly housekeeper-cook who works for Dr. Kepple.
Locks & Cream Cheese is the first Paco and Molly mystery written by Rosemary and Larry Mild. The Mild's have written an intriguing teaser with a quirky cast of characters. As the story unfolds, the reader may tire of the slower pace of this book as opposed to later books in the series, especially during the history of the various museum pieces. Subsequent books correct the error and are a delight to read.
The authors make good use of the malapropos, or as Paco says, the Mollyprops. The interchanging of words by the irascible Molly adds charm and humor to the mystery as her confused listeners seek to understand what she said or intended to say.
Well-developed plotting provides plenty of clues, but also keeps the crux of this whodunit until the reveal. There are plenty of questionable characters to choose from, and the discerning reader will enjoy unraveling the mystery.
Locks & Cream Cheese provides a worthy beginning to a series that continues to improve book by book. Here’s hoping for many more Paco and Molly mysteries.