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by Julia Buckley
Berkley Prime Crime, February 2020
304 pages
ISBN: 0451491939

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Doug Heller calls Lena and Sam to come to Belinda's house. There to pick up Belinda for a date, Doug finds her missing, but her phone and wallet are still there. The three friends call Belinda's parents and discover that Belinda's brother Carl is working for a new company, Plasti-Source, building a plant in Blue Lake.

After a short conversation, Doug, Lena, and Sam head out to a cabin that belongs to Belinda's family, where they find Carl and Belinda. Carl is on medication for anxiety and brought his sister to the cabin because he needs help. His best friend Luis is missing, and Carl is frantic to find him. Luis was upset about something at work the last time he was with Carl. Now, Carl can't find Luis, he isn't answering his phone or text messages and Elena, his wife, says she doesn't know where he is.

When Carl realizes that Lena works with Camilla Graham, the successful mystery novelist, he asks if they will help find Luis. In the meantime, the community is fighting the rezoning necessary for the new Plasti-Source building, citing environmental concerns based on the firm's history in other locations.

As Doug, Carl, Lena, and Belinda, a research librarian, start digging into Luis' disappearance and find a couple of clues. Carl hacks the company's e-mail and finds hints of irregularities with the two construction companies working on the Plasti-Source project along with EPA involvement. Lena learns that Luis reported "being disillusioned about work," saying he needed to quit when he visited Blue Lake Games to order a new game that is still waiting for him to pick up.

In between the sleuthing, Lena and her fiancé, Sam West, are planning their wedding. Lena and Adam, Camilla's boyfriend, have organized a surprise party for Camilla's upcoming birthday. And Lena and Camilla are working on ideas for two books, one a new novel and the other, at her publisher's suggestion, either a memoir or book on writing advice. The complexity of the story keeps the pace moving as the threads overlap, demanding the reader's attention.

Julia Buckley's Blue Lake community brings relatable, well-developed characters together as they work through the challenges presented in each story. Buckley's skill in creating engaging plotlines along with realistic dialogue and relationships make this series a must-read for discerning cozy fans. Animal lovers will not be disappointed as Lena's cat is Lestrade, Sam's kittens are Geronimo & Arabella, and Camilla's two German shepherds are Heathcliff and Rochester, all with distinctive personalities adding to the mischief here and there.

Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton’s, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, January 2020

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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