Monday, May 31, 2010

Debut Mystery from Ellery Adams: A KILLER PLOT

Oyster Bay, North Carolina, is going through big changes: Home-town girl Olivia Limoges is back, all grown up into a wealthy entrepreneur whose classy and generous impulses have already brought a fine restaurant to the town. And there's a new bookshop, with a yummy owner that's making Olivia think of romantic possibilities -- with even a bit more edge than the comfortable relationship that seems possible for her as she gets to know the local chief of police.

But Olivia's unlikely to have time for either gentleman, and it's not just because of the time she spends running her restaurant and taking care of her constant companion, a black standard poodle named Captain Haviland. When Olivia accepts an invitation to join the Bayside Book Writers and get some peer reviews and help for her budding novel, murder is already underway -- the horrifying death of the sweet and stylish man who'd invited her into the group, celebrity gossip columnist Camden Ford.

And with that provocation, this capable and energetic woman with a long and complex local history is suddenly on the trail of a criminal; she's willing to have the police do their share of work, but she's already thinking things through, taking chances, and seeking motive, means, and opportunity. 
"I could certainly do with some scotch," Olivia murmured in relief. She removed the blanket from her shoulders and folded it into a neat square. "Thank you, Chief. I really have nothing useful to tell you at the moment, but I'll gather up the other writers and try to come up with a comprehensive statement." She pushed the blanket toward him and gazed at him intently, her navy blue eyes black, mournful pools. "Please find out who did this to Camden."
A KILLER PLOT: A BOOKS BY THE BAY MYSTERY is the debut for author Ellery Adams, and there are clearly more appearances of Olivia and Captain Haviland ahead. But don't be fooled into expecting the soft spots of a "first novel" from this author -- she's written ten other books under other names (I won't reveal which! -- but if you got to her author events, you'll know!) and this one is tightly plotted, often dark, and hints at deep troubles that will feed future volumes. Although the book fits the "cozy" subgenre -- plenty of details of food and decor, and even some sticky little children -- Ellery Adams brings the insight of a Southern, well-funded Miss Marple to the pages. It's a pleasure to see this series underway, in the form of a Berkley Prime Crime mystery softcover.

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