The first book in the Books by the Bay Mystery series, published June 2010.
In the small coastal town of Oyster Bay, North Carolina, you'll find plenty of characters, ne'er-do-wells, and even a few celebs trying to duck the paparazzi. But when murder joins this curious community, the Bayside Book Writers are there to get the story…
Olivia Limoges is the subject of constant gossip. Ever since she came back to town—a return as mysterious as the day she left—Olivia has kept to herself, her dog, and her unfinished novel. With a little cajoling from the eminently charming writer Camden Ford, she agrees to join the Bayside Book Writers, break her writer's block, and even make a few friends…
But when townspeople start turning up dead with haiku poems left with the bodies, anyone with a flair for language is suddenly suspect. And it's up to Olivia to catch the killer before she meets her own surprise ending."
Olivia Limoges is a very wealthy woman when she comes back to her home town. After travelling the world extensively, she knows she can only be happy near the ocean where she grew up. After the death of her parents, her grandmother whisked her away to boarding school, and taught her how to be a lady. Now Olivia owns a lot of property in town, including the only 5 star restaurant, called The Boot Top.
She lives alone with her black poodle called Captain Havilland, and is trying to write a novel. Unfortunately, the project is not going very well. Then one day, having breakfast at her favourite restaurant, Grumpy’s Diner. Her customary booth is taken by another group, so she has to eat at the bar. Dixie, the exuberant waitress, tells her they are a writers group, trying to critique each others work, to improve their own. Not able to silence her tongue, Olivia is invited to join their group, and have them critique her novel. She doesn’t know if she is ready for that. And they need a new place to come together, and Camden has heard she owns a cottage near the lighthouse.
As that used to be her childhood home, it holds a lot of memories for Olivia, pleasant ones about her mother, and very unpleasant ones when it was just her father and her living there, missing her mother. But she decides she is ready to clean up those memories, and with her usual vigor arranges to have the place fixed up, and fast.
Then, on their very first meeting in the approved lighthouse, Camden Ford doesn’t show up, and it would be his work to be reviewed by the rest of them. So they set of in search of him, and to their horror, find him dead in an alley near the bar Millay works as a waitress. A haiku is written on the wall above the body. Camden was busy writing a fictional novel about a local mighty but bad family, and perhaps they found out about that. Olivia and the rest of the group are determined to find out the why and who.
It took me a very long while to get into this book. It is not an usual cozy as I am used to. A woman with a shop or profession solving a mystery. Olivia doesn’t really work, even though she owns a lot of property. She is free to walk along the beach with her dog, go out to have breakfast, lunch and dinner, and write her novel. And then there are the other writers, sharing their work, and the clues they find.
Olivia is attracted to the owner of the new bookshop, and wow, that is one shop I would love to visit! But she also is attracted to the chief of police, and I am really hoping she will choose him. They just have a bit more of a thing going. Olivia is scared of relationships, she always keeps them casual, never takes a man to her own house. Easier to break it of that way. But perhaps things are ready for a change now she is living in Oyster Bay again.
She is rich, and easy with the spending of her money, for her self, but also for other people.
I could not get a handle on the mystery part though. Yes, the murderer was mentioned casually in the book, and there was a vibe about him, but there were no clues to figure everything out before the police arrested him.
In the end I did like Olivia, she has a lot of issues, but is getting over them, and knows it herself too. Her dog is great though, as are the lot of secondary characters. I read this book, as some one mentioned the sequel as the best mystery she had ever read, so I wanted to find out for myself. In my opinion, this one is not really what I love, but I am curious about the next one, if it improves upon knowing the cast. The book is well written, no love scenes but a few kisses, but also not very much humor which for me is an important thing in a book.
I did like the description of the 4th of July Parade in the end though. Usually a book ends after the mystery has been solved, but this book had some more pages to unwind with.
So, for now, 7 stars