Logland Mystery #2
By Elaine Orr
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
When Marti, one of the new owners of the Bully Pulpit Diner, heads to the laundromat to retrieve clean linens, she did not expect to find the body of town grouch Louella Belle Simpson cycling through the dryer. Louella Belle has racked up a lot of ill will by constantly voicing her opinions on Logland residents’ weight and food consumption. Chief Elizabeth Friedman has few clues and little help from the alarmed Logland residents. When a second body turns up in the senior citizen apartment parking lot, it looks as if Christmas will be far from merry this year. (From Goodreads)
Final Cycle is second in the small-town Midwest series, Logland Mystery. We see the action through the eyes of the chief of police, Elizabeth Friedman. The first murder was of a woman that most people didn’t like, and seeing how the police department came up with suspects was interesting. The characters are an eclectic mix of police, seniors, college students, and even the local homeless man, who are minimally defined as needed for their roles.
Louella Belle Simpson irritated everyone with the exception of the students she helped provide summer lunches for. She was a retired home-economics and health teacher from the high school, and a huge believer in nutritious meals that don’t include sugar, carbs, or junk food. So much so that she would stop shoppers at the grocery store to tell them to take sugary cereals or candy out of their carts, tell people when they or their kids were overweight, or post a picture of the assistant middle-school principal’s children with their faces vaguely blurred but identifiable and her nutrition suggestions. It is no wonder that, the Monday before Christmas, Louella was found dead in the dryer used by Bully Pulpit Diner co-owner, Marti, for diner linens. Nobody knew why Louella Belle was there, so trying to even find who might be in the laundromat at the same time was a mess.
Two people in the laundromat that afternoon were Grace Whittle and Stanley Buttons who live at the senior living apartments, but neither saw Ms. Simpson there before leaving. Two college students, nicknamed Just Juice and Herbie Hiccup who were not the sharpest tools in the shed, arrived just before Stanley left. They in turn saw Blake Wessley from the Dollar General store. Blake is also a college student, angry that he had to move out of the frat house when it was shut down due to their various activities. Elizabeth saw a half-rusted bicycle in the alley behind the nearby tattoo parlor and sees the next day, it is reported stolen by Finn Clancy, the local homeless guy who has no visible means of support.
Skelly, a local doctor, medical examiner, and friend of Elizabeth’s thinks someone pushed Ms. Simpson hard enough that she fell, causing a neck fracture. There was a minute amount of water in her lungs; someone may have dunked her head and shoulders in the huge laundry tub before hiding her in the dryer.
Two days later, a pair of bricks is tossed through the window of Elizabeth’s apartment with a warning note attached and leading the stray tortie cat that adopted her to escape. Later that day, a well-liked senior living complex resident is found murdered in the parking lot of the complex. While that murder and Louella’s may be connected due to his being in the laundromat, it might not be related at all, even though two murders in one week is unheard of in Logland, Illinois. A couple brief days later, Skelly is attacked in his office/ lab at the hospital and left with a concussion. Someone is really nervous, and a couple bricks short of a load if they think they can deter the police and ME.
The characters were interesting, but other than Elizabeth and Louella Belle, I didn’t feel I got to know anyone else at more than a very surface manner. I could picture several of the characters from physical descriptions, but didn’t feel I actually knew anyone else, except possibly Skelly. Elizabeth has a compassionate heart as evidenced by her wonder of what happened to some folks for them to lead their current lives and some of her reactions to discoveries about them.
This is the first cozy mystery I’ve read by this author, and it won’t be the last. The crises of murder and mayhem drew me in to the story, especially as so much occurred in such a short time. The mysteries are a bit of a challenge, and the solutions were unfolded well. There are unexpected plot twists, including the second murder. I was surprised by the complete resolution to the crimes, and liked the pace at which it was revealed. I highly recommend this cozy mystery to those who appreciate college town cozy mysteries with unique solutions sprinkled liberally with humor and descriptions of the area.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*