Video store convention sets scene for fun murder mystery

Do you remember when cell phones were exotic rarities, but you could usually locate a pay phone? Do you recall when streaming was something you did with banners? And if you wanted to rent a movie there was often a video store right around the corner. That wasn’t very long ago.

Today, cell phones are ubiquitous while pay phones have disappeared. Streaming movies and music are now routine activities. When was the last time you noticed a video store? Do they even exist? In the world of Kathi Reed’s character Annie Fillmore the video store still reigns supreme as the center of her universe.

In the third installment of this whimsical series Annie remains the proprietor of Annie’s Video and Music Hall in Briartown, Ohio. The year is 1991, Annie has been invited to an industry conference in Kentucky. While Annie hates the thought of abandoning the shop for three days she has reliable staff to cover for her so she decides to go.

Annie is responding to a flyer from Wonderly Entertainment that trumpets “meet the stars-mingle with your peers-let the experts teach you how to make more $$$- prizes-freebies-shop our warehouse for thousands of sale videos.” Readers familiar with Annie Fillmore shall expect one more thing; a murder mystery.

She arrives at her hotel and opens the door to her room to find “there on the carpet at the foot of the beds was a chalked outline of what was at one time, I assumed, a dead body.” Oops, wrong room. They relocate her to the right suite, but now Annie is wondering about this grim discovery just down the hall.

Annie always finds a way to wander into a homicide investigation. And since she’s snoopy by nature she immediately begins inquiring about what she just saw. But nobody seems to know anything about it. A murder, what murder? Where’s the body? These video store professionals are ready to party!

As our intrepid amateur sleuth begins digging for clues she meets a woman who seems to know something about the missing person who caused that chalk outline to be made. But there are people who don’t want anybody to know what really happened.

They find a way to quickly hush up the woman who has been talking to Annie. This does not deter her one bit. If anything, it makes her even more determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. Kathi Reed writes with dark humor. She describes crimes without depicting gore or gratuitous violence.

One of the great pleasures of reading a series like this one is observing the development of the main characters. Annie has a love interest, a much younger man, but that situation has been tamped down from what was happening in the previous book.

For Annie it is always about solving the crime before the police can do it. This is a fun series. The author resides in the Cincinnati area. I’m already looking forward to her next one.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit Contact him at

About the Author