Saturday, January 29, 2022

A Killer Plot (Books by the Bay Mysteries #1), by Ellery Adams (author), Karen White (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781494586225, August 2015

Olivia Limoges lived her first few years in the little town of Oyster Bay, North Carolina. Her mother died in a freak accident during a storm when she was seven, though, and her father, a fisherman, died when she was ten. The little village pulled together to care for her until her grandmother arrived to take custody of her, and take her away. Many years later, she has returned, a successful businesswoman, and has been investing her money in redeveloping Oyster Bay in ways that preserve and enhance the existing character of the community.

But Olivia isn't outgoing and social, and she resents any questions, perfectly normal in most circumstances, that might lead to talking about her childhood traumas. She really has only one close friend in Oyster Bay, and is the subject of gossip.

But that one friend, Dixie, who works with her husband, Grumpy, in their Grumpy's Diner, introduces her to Camden Ford, who in turn coaxes her into joining the Oyster Bay writers' group he's a member of. She's working on her own historical novel, and has run into a problem, so, why not? 

Shortly after she joins, though, one of their members is murdered. Olivia, along with the other members, start investigating. The group includes computer programmer Harris (the only male member besides Camden), stay-at-home mother of twins Laurel, and the young, female bartender with multiple piercings, whose name is pronounced "Maylee." Since I listened to the audiobook, and I'm not familiar with that name, I don't know the spelling. All of them have skills, knowledge, or contacts that help them do so--but in a pleasing departure from the norm in cozy mysteries, they also have the sense to avoid foolish risks, and back off to let Chief of Police Sawyer Rawlings do the serious investigation. They turn up what information they can find to him, rather than deciding they know better.

There are two more deaths to come, and some scandals to uncover. Olivia is not an easy character to like, but she gets more likable as we learn more about the traumas of her childhood, and she opens up as she builds real friendships with the writers' group, Chief Rawlings., and Flynn McNulty, owner of the new bookstore in town, Through the Wardrobe. Olivia also has a dog, a standard poodle, named Captain Haviland. Haviland is smart, well-behaved, and perfect. A little too perfect, perhaps, but I loved him anyway.

It is sadly true that Olivia is a snob. She judges people on their taste in wine, food, and coffee, as well as dress and interior decorating. She's a bit too willing to use her wealth to get her way--though she'll do that for her friends, too.

There's also the matter of the Confederate cemetery. It's in a public park, and both the park and the cemetery are sadly neglected. Yet when an outside developer comes in with a plan to develop a high-end residential community, the idea that it would require moving the Confederate dead from this neglected cemetery to a well-maintained church cemetery is An Outrage, and dishonoring the Confederate dead.

Now, first of all, where's the insult in moving them to a place where their graves will be tended and maintained? No one has cared enough about them to actually maintain the supposedly precious park and memorial. More provoking to me, is that even the Evil Yankee Outside Developer ever mentions that Our Honored Confederate Dead were in fact traitors. That's not a reason to treat their bodies with disrespect, but moving them to a better-maintained cemetery is hardly that.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. Olivia grew on me, and I liked Dixie, Chief Rawlings, Flynn McNulty, and the writers' group members. The mystery itself is pretty interesting, and it's hard to go wrong with a likable dog, who emerges healthy and happy at the other end of the book.

I bought this audiobook.

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