Issy Castillo Mystery Series

Scent of Murder: Synopsis

Isabel (Issy) Castillo, fresh from East Coast graduate school, is overjoyed to land her first job teaching Spanish at a small university in her Boulder, Colorado hometown where she can climb the academic ladder, reconnect with her Hispanic roots, and—who knows?—find true love. Her enthusiasm soon wanes when she discovers seething jealousies and rivalries among faculty and students alike, not to mention illegal activities, that roil beneath the tranquil surface.

Issy’s life takes a decided downturn when she discovers her chief romantic interest, a witty and personable, but Svengali-like theater professor, strangled in his office with her scarf and she becomes a prime suspect in the murder. Driven to clear her name and ferret out the killer’s identity, she becomes entangled in a sticky web woven from the threads of passion, vice, and pundonor—the Latino interpretation of honor and integrity. Issy speeds into overdrive to discover the killer when a second victim, her prime suspect for the first murder, is found dead in his bed and her prints are discovered at the scene.

She gets help from family and new friends, alive and dead—the last in the form of her proverb-spouting spirit granny, who adds a touch of Latino magical realism and humor to the story. But mostly, Issy’s own ingenuity and interest in aromatherapy solve the crimes.

Without giving away the ending, I can say that Issy brings down the murderer, but not without first enduring a hair-raising finale, which includes confronting and overcoming two of her worst phobias as well as escaping from death by fragrance poisoning. Although Issy doesn’t meet her soul mate in this first book, she gains the respect of her students, colleagues, and family, develops a group of like-minded sleuth friends, dubbed The Boulder Women Detective Team, learns how aromatherapy can enhance her life, and gets a boost along the path of spiritual enlightenment from her long departed Native ancestor.