vrijdag 6 april 2012

Ellery Adams - The Last Word

The third book in the Books by the Bay Mystery series, published December 6, 2011.

The last word

Olivia Limoges and the Bayside Book Writers are excited about Oyster Bay's newest resident: bestselling novelist Nick Plumley, who's come to work on his next book, but finds himself caught in a deadly ending.

The arrival of Nick Plumley has sent shivers of excitement throughout Oyster Bay. Especially since rumor has it that the Booker Prize winner is thinking about putting down roots here. No one is more thrilled than Olivia and her fellow members when Plumley drops by the first writer’s group meeting at Harris’s new house. But why is Plumley more interested in poking around the lovely bungalow than in discussing the craft of fiction?
Not long after, Olivia stops by Plumley's rental – and finds that he's been strangled to death. Her instincts tell her that something from the past came back to haunt him, but she never expects that the investigation could spell doom for one of her dearest friends...

Another member of the Bayside Writers and a friend of Olivia Limoges, is ready to buy his very first house, and he has fallen in love with an old one. As Olivia is determined that Harris will not buy a moneypit, she has arranged for her personal contractor to take a look at the house first, and to give an estimate of what work needs to be done, and what it will be costing. In the previous book, Harris won some money in a cardboard regatta, and now he can afford to buy a house. As the house really has a lot of character, and is sound enough, Olivia is determined that Harris will have his dream. She is already thinking of ways to help him out. Olivia is very generous like that, doing what she can for her friends, often behind their backs so they won’t know it was her, and I like that about her.
When going to Grumpy’s diner for lunch, Olivia finds her friend and waitress Dixie exuberant for having a famous author in her diner. And even though Olivia is excited about the fact that he is her temporary neighbour, and is looking to buy a house in the village, when she finds out he wants the very same house Harris has lost his heart to, she quickly takes the steps to secure it happening. No way is this rich author going to outbid Harris! And why would a famous author want such an obscure old house, instead of something like the place he is renting at the moment?

The author, Nick Plumley, has written a book about the happenings at a Prisoner of War Camp in New Bern, North Carolina, during the Second World War. Olivia has read his book, and was very impressed with it. It all happened so close by, and she never knew about it. Is Nick working on a sequel perhaps?
Also, the Bayside Crab House is almost ready for opening, and Olivia’s newly discovered family has arrived. Hudson will be the chef, and his wife Kim will be the manager. But Kim is almost ready to give birth to their second child, so she cannot be at the restaurant full time. It will be strange for them, Ocracoke Island was their home since birth, and now they don’t even life near the ocean anymore. But it will be better for Caitlyn, she can meet new children and perhaps make some friends. Olivia just knows she made the right decision to offer those strangers her new restaurant, but they are family, and they will get to know each other.
And when Kim does give birth, and something is wrong with the little boy, it is Olivia who rides to the rescue and does what is necessary. Bonding with her little nephew in ways she never expected.

After all the tumult in the previous book, Olivia has shut down emotionally, keeping everyone at arms length, but now she is ready to resume her relationship with the Chief of Police Rawlings, but has no idea how to tell him that.

When Harris calls Olivia to tell her excitedly that he has met Nick Plumley, and that he wanted to see his house, and that he has agreed to join their writersgroup that next Saturday for the critique session, Olivia is not really happy with that. After all, they will be critiquing her chapter! And now a stranger will read it? But as the majority of the group is happy with it, she has no choice but to rejoice with them. After they have all helped Harris with the moving, Olivia finally knows the perfect housewarming gift for him: a new kitchen floor. The whole kitchen is really old, but Harris has done his best to clean it. And when Harris tells that Nick has offered to help him paint, she really smells something fishy. Why is the author so interested in Harris’ little house?

And then Harris finds a hidden place behind a stair, including an oldfashioned thermos with a painting in it. And when the painting is a link to one of the prisoners of war Nick has been writing about, Olivia just knows the author was looking for it. How did he know there would be something to find? When she goes to show Nick the painting, and just plain ask him, she is too late, Nick has been murdered…

And so the Bayside Writers get involved in a new murder mystery. I loved how Olivia uses Millay and her barkeeping experience to get information out of their suspects, and how everyone helps with the research necessary. Who were the previous owners of Harris’ house, what happened to the prisoners of war? The ones that escaped, and when the war was over? Laurel is really on her way to become a great journalist; her stories have garnered her international interest. Will she stay in Oyster Bay with her almost estranged husband? Will she fall for chef Michel? Will she go on to a big city newspaper when they offer her a job?
And through it all, there is Haviland, Olivia’s loyal canine companion. He is a great secondary character, a nice diversion, and he eats better than lots of humans do : )
And there is some lovely developments of a relationship between Millay and Harris, I have been waiting for that.

I have finished the book, and made the preparations of starting this review, and I sat staring at a blank screen, going back to Twitter constantly. The better the book, the harder it is to write a review of it. So yes, this book was very good. I have come to look at a cozy mystery as a light and entertaining read, perfect as a kind of in-between. But Ellery Adams books have a dept of character, of development that totally drags me into the story, not noticing what is happening around me. If my evil boyfriend had not started watching House yesterday evening, I would have finished it in one sitting. Instead, I watched House for 4 hours. I could have spent that time reading, but well, House was captivating as well, with his addiction to pain killers (season 3 somewhere).

I love the little peeks in the books the Bayside Writers are writing at, especially the ones by Olivia and Millay, and now Laurel. They critique each others work, and the reader gets to read it as well.

As a European, I have learned a lot about World War II and all the bad and nasty and plain evil things that happened. I did not know however, that there were Prisoner of War camps in the United States. So it is a wrong choice of words to say I loved to learn this, but it was for sure very interesting. How those people were treated, that they were just boys and young men, and not really nazi’s (except some of course). They just got drafted, or wanted to sea the world, or fight for their country. They did not believe all this nazi idiocy. And they were welcome in the communities, working the farms and factories, earning a bit of money, making things like the paintings in this story.

Ellery Adams has written an exceptional book, she totally transported me to Oyster Bay, and walk beside Olivia, learning all this. I cried with her. Ellery has a great way with words, and the pages flew in my hands, while my eyes stayed glued to the story. I am looking forward to reading her next book, which will not be out till the end of the year. I need to find out what happens to Olivia, is the Chief the right man for her? And of course, what will happen to all the other secondary characters I have come to like and care for. I totally recommend this author and this series to all lovers of a good story and great characters.

9 stars.

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