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by Ellery Adams
Berkley Prime Crime, March 2011
278 pages
ISBN: 0425240231

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

There's a storm headed for Oyster Bay, North Carolina and it's not just a weather kind of storm. Olivia Limoges is walking her Standard Poodle, Captain Haviland, on the beach when they discover a dead body buried standing up in the sand with a bucket over his head. Who is the dead man and why was he left in such an unusual manner? Olivia runs a five star restaurant, The Boot Top Bistro, so this is a little out of her line. She's also a writer and has recently helped figure out who murdered one of her friends. So it's not totally far-fetched that she becomes involved in this crime.

The new police chief, Sawyer Rawlings, is a member of Olivia's writers group. They have a passing acquaintance which grows a bit stronger as the case progresses. There are other corpses, all posed in strange ways or with other odd tableaus at the crime scenes. Once the connection is made, it is easier for the group to sort out who the criminal might be. Rawlings doesn't have the inside knowledge that these people, long-time residents all, have; neither does the reader.

Adams has written a competent mystery. While Olivia is fortunate enough to be very wealthy, she doesn't patronize the locals and they don't seem to object to her good deeds. Of course, Olivia is careful not to keep some of her giving anonymous, which keeps possible resentment down. She has issues of her own, some of which are part of a sub-plot that works very well. The setting is gorgeous, and Olivia's love for her town is clearly conveyed in the descriptions. The plot is a little thin in that the reader doesn't have all the information Olivia does, although Adams does share almost as soon as Olivia realizes what is going on. One also has to admire Adams' restraint in only punning once on the Limoges name.

§ P.J. Coldren lives in northern lower Michigan where she reads and reviews widely across the mystery genre when she isn't working in her local hospital pharmacy.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, June 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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