Boxes in the Basement
The Inn at Holiday Bay, Book #1
By Kathi Daley
Author Website: kathidaley(.)com
After suffering a personal tragedy Abby Sullivan buys a huge old seaside mansion she has never even seen, packs up her life in San Francisco, and moves to Holiday Bay Maine, where she is adopted, quite against her will, by a huge Maine Coon Cat named Rufus, a drifter with her own tragic past named Georgia, and a giant dog with an inferiority complex named Ramos. What Abby thought she needed was alone time to heal. What she ended up with was, an inn she never knew she wanted, a cat she couldn’t seem to convince to leave, and a new family she’d never be able to live without.
In book 1 of this series, a local girl has been murdered and the small seaside community is up in arms. When Abby finds boxes in the basement of her new home, which seem to provide a clue as to who might have killed the girl, Abby plants herself firmly in the middle of what has turned out to be a complicated investigation. Although Abby isn’t a cop, or even a private detective, she isn’t unfamiliar with the investigative process. As a New York Times Bestselling mystery writer she knows how to conduct research. As the widow of a homicide detective, she knows the questions to ask.
Join Abby, Georgia, Rufus, and Ramos, as they help Officer Colt Wilder track down a killer before kills the next victim in what looks to be an annual spree. (Goodreads)
First in the new Inn at Holiday Bay series, this is a very enjoyable cozy mystery with characters who drew this reader in and held her attention. What would drive a young woman to leave behind her life in San Francisco and purchase a huge, time-worn home in Holiday Bay on the coast of Maine? It is on a bluff overlooking the sea with a fabulous view of the water. Nobody knows who she is or what she’d been through, they only know that someone has plans to remodel it, gutting part of the rooms to start over.
Abby Sullivan is an author and hopes to stay anonymous for a while in her new home. Healing from a tragedy and the need to get away coupled with finding out about this home and feeling that this was where she should go brought her here. She has only one family member left who currently isn’t speaking to her.
When going through the mansion the first time, a fluffy orange cat trotted in and up the stairs. Abby has never been a cat person, never had pets, and didn’t plan on getting one now. She later learned the cat’s name is Rufus and that his previous owner died, leaving him homeless. Rufus has decided to stay for the time being, in spite of Abby’s best plans. Abby and Rufus share the guest house, which was recently remodeled by the previous owner.
Abby is put in contact with a local, highly-recommended contractor who had once considered purchasing the home. He is a tremendous help in scheduling subcontractors, making suggestions for finishes, and how to best utilize the space available. Abby is turning the historic home into a Bed and Breakfast and hopes to open during the next tourist season. His wife, Lacy, is one of Abby’s first friends in Holiday Bay, after Velma, who owns Velma’s Café and is the source for local news and shopping recommendations in the area. The next friend Abby meets is Georgia, who lost everything except her pup, Ramos, and is looking for a place to start over. Close in age, they grow closer than either would have thought possible.
One day when heading home, the main turnoff to the bluff house is closed off due to the body of a local woman being found, murdered. The more she asks questions, the more curious she becomes. Abby writes mysteries and thrillers, and her husband had been a homicide detective who used to bounce some of his confounding cases and clues off of her. Abby had an instinct for helping him see things through a different lens. Whether the local police chief, Colter Wilder, will appreciate her help or not is yet to be seen.
In the basement of the bluff house, Abby found several boxes of what look like high school mementos and a mattress, as if someone had been hiding out there with the boxes. It stunned Abby, however, to discover that one of the boxes contained mementos of Darcy, the girl who was found murdered. Other boxes have belongings of a young local woman who disappeared, another young woman who was found dead, possibly of a hiking accident. The last contains photos and other memorabilia of a young woman still alive and well. Who left the boxes there and why, as well as what happened to the other girls all keep Abby’s writer’s mind busy. She now has many ideas to begin writing again for the first time in a year, and soon has much to do – not the least of which is helping look for a killer.
I like how the author builds each character, revealing little by little rather than giving their background at the time of their introduction. We know little about Abby when the story opens and learn about her throughout. I like Abby, Georgia, and their new friends in Holiday Harbor. The setting, as described, is gorgeous and suited to the people in the area, it sounds like. There is depth and beauty, in the town, in its celebrations, and its people.
There are interesting plot twists throughout that kept the pages flying. The layers of mystery are presented well without being overwhelming. Conversations are realistic, as are most of the actions. Watching Abby and Georgia have their first set of holidays in a new home, in a new town, and with new friends reminds us what it can be like for newcomers. The reader is also shown truths about grieving that are valuable through Abby’s perspective. The mysteries are challenging, and there were certainly surprises at the end. I highly recommend Boxes in the Basement to those who enjoy cozy mysteries, coastal living, and home renovations.