Books by the Bay, Book #8
By Ellery Adams
Author’s website: www.Elleryadamsmysteries.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Restaurant owner and aspiring novelist Olivia Limoges is happily enjoying her new marriage. Sadly, the same doesn’t hold true for Laurel, a fellow Bayside Book Writer. While struggling with a demanding job, twin boys, and a terminally ill mother-in-law, Laurel learns that her perfect marriage is mostly fictional. When she catches her husband fooling around with his mother’s hospice nurse, she issues impassioned threats that will later come back to haunt her.
After the nurse meets a deadly denouement, Chief Rawlings is forced to take Laurel into custody. While Olivia protests the arrest, the rest of the Bayside Book Writers become a group divided, with Rawlings and Harris on one side and Olivia and Millay on the other. Now the women must race against the clock to prove that Laurel’s not the sort for murder before her story ends in tragedy.
Wow! Just. Wow. Ellery Adams’ mysteries have always pushed the boundaries of the cozy mystery genre, and Killer Characters is no exception. This eighth, and final, book in the Books by the Bay series deals with raw emotions, tough betrayals, and a heartbreaking surprise ending.
Since reading the first book in the series A Killer Plot, I have been a great admirer of Ellery Adams’ ability to seamlessly combine complicated, well developed characters and their life experiences with artistically plotted, complex mysteries. She is one of my favorite authors, and I seek out anything she writes.
This time around, Laurel deals with the stress of raising her twins, her mother-in-laws terminal illness, and her husband’s failure to help out and be engaged. Something that a hospice nurse says strikes Olivia as odd, and she shares her concerns with Laurel which then leads to the discovery of Steve’s infidelity. Threats are made, and when the nurse Stacy is murdered much in the way Laurel threatened, Laurel becomes the prime suspect. Olivia is determined to clear Laurel’s name, and the whole incident divides the tight knit Bayside Writers Group. There are more deaths, secrets uncovered, and a potential jewel theft ring. The mystery is twisty, and I was surprised by the perpetrator’s identity.
I am not going to lie. Parts of Killer Characters are difficult to read. The book revolves around adultery, and it is not sugarcoated. If you have read the other books in the series, you know Olivia started out as a cold, distant, prickly character. She has really grown over the span of the series, but I feel like she takes a bit of a step backwards here. In the beginning of the story, I did try to admire her ferocious and desperate desire to help Laurel, but she came across as caustic and unyielding, quick to pick sides. Thank goodness, this does get better as the book moves along. The initial division among the friends is tough, but as usual, they all come together to solve the mystery in the end.
Some readers may not like the direction Adams takes in this book. Personally, I am impressed with her willingness to write what feels true to her. If you are after a light hearted romp with characters that happily ride off into the sunset, this will not fit the bill. If, on the other hand, you appreciate that life is full of bitter and sweet moments, then read on. Am I surprised by ending of the book? Yes. Did I shed some tears? Most definitely. All in all, though, I am left with a sense of hope. I have grown to love Olivia, Sawyer, Captain Haviland, and the other recurring characters. I will miss Olivia and Haviland’s treasure hunting walks along the beach and the refuge of the lighthouse. Oh, I will miss roller skate wearing Dixie and her Andrew Lloyd Webber themed diner. With tears in my eyes, I bid the residents of Oyster Bay adieu.