“Killer Listing,” the second mystery novel by Camden writer Vicki Doudera, is as good as her first, “A House to Die For,” which was named “Best of 2010” by Suspense Magazine and praised in the New York Times.

In “Killer Listing,” Doudera’s main character — the gutsy and charming Darby Farr — makes a return appearance after her introduction in “A House to Die For.” As in the earlier novel, Farr is a high-end real estate agent whose sharp mind and skill in martial arts make her an able crime fighter in a business that can expose her to society’s worst.

There the similarities end. Unlike the earlier book, set on a Maine island, “Killer Listing” unfolds in Sarasota, Fla., where Farr comes to help her late aunt’s business partner, Helen Near.

The name of the agency, “Near & Farr,” is an example of Doudera’s ample humor that’s a welcome relief in a book with dark passages.

In the first chapter of “Killer Listing,” Farr arrives in Florida days after the tragic death of Kyle Cameron, a former Miss Florida and one of the state’s most successful real estate agents. She was stabbed multiple times minutes before a real estate showing at a swank condominium, and it’s soon clear that it is no isolated crime: a string of murders have taken place in condominiums during real estate open houses.

Complicating this murder is the fast-track life led by the late Cameron. She was the longtime lover of real estate magnate Foster McFarlin, who happens to be the husband of Florida’s lieutenant governor, the vindictive Chellie Howe.

Darby Farr befriends and helps a detective handling the case. Realizing that Farr is more capable than most credentialed law enforcement investigators, Jonas Bridges trusts her implicitly.

But their work is made challenging by an array of slimy Floridians. Among them is Cameron’s alcoholic husband, separated from her at the time of the murder.

Another suspect makes his living pulling water skiers aloft on a kite attached to his speedboat. One day, the cable snaps and his hapless clients drift landward toward high-rises and electric wires as he speeds away in his boat.

In common with good mysteries, this one doesn’t let readers know where it’s headed until the last several pages.

Doudera is no stranger to the real estate scene. A Realtor in Camden, she’s at home writing nonfiction as well as mysteries.

In the former category, she published the 2007 book, “Moving to Maine: The Essential Guide to Get You There and What You Need to Know to Stay.”

She also wrote the 2003 guidebook, “Where to Retire in Maine.” Down East, Yankee and Reader’s Digest have published her articles.

Although there’s a lot to like in this mystery, the number of plots interwoven into the main story will grow tiresome to some readers. But Doudera has created an interesting and likeable character in Darby Farr, whom we’ll surely meet again.

Lloyd Ferriss is a writer and photographer who lives in Richmond.


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