Murder on Cape Cod
Cozy Capers Book Club Mystery #1
By Maddie Day
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
A Cape Cod shop owner and her book club must find a crafty killer in this charming new series from the Agatha-nominated author of the Country Store Mystery series.
Summer is busy season for Mackenzie “Mac” Almeida’s bicycle shop, nestled in the quaint, seaside hamlet of Westham, Massachusetts. She’s expecting an influx of tourists at Mac’s Bikes; instead she discovers the body of Jake Lacey. Mac can’t imagine anyone stabbing the down-on-his-luck handyman. However, the authorities seem to think Mac is a strong suspect after she was spotted arguing with Jake just hours before his death. Mac knows she didn’t do it, but she does recognize the weapon—her brother Derrick’s fishing knife.
Mac’s only experience with murder investigations is limited to the cozy mysteries she reads with her local book group, the Cozy Capers. So to clear her name—and maybe her brother’s too—Mac will have to summon help from her Cozy Capers co-investigators and a library’s worth of detectives’ tips and tricks. For a small town, Westham is teeming with possible killers, and this is one mystery where Mac is hoping for anything but a surprise ending…
This is a great start to a new series by Maddie Day, and already I am looking forward to more! The protagonist is a savvy businesswoman. Her family and friends may have interesting quirks but are overall loving and respected people. The setting of Cape Cod in the summer is so well described that I’d love to visit! And the mystery…well, let’s say that I did not come up with the killer as there are so many good suspects!
Mac Almeida returned to Westham just over a year ago, and since then has established Mac’s Bikes, renting and repairing bicycles and selling various clothing and other needs of bicyclists. It is already successful; now, Mac just needs to find employees who are in the shop on time. She had hired Orlean to do bicycle repairs and her brother, Derrick, to work on the sales and rental side of the building. The day after Jake Lacey is found dead, however, neither of her employees are acting “normal”.
Mac volunteers one evening a week at the soup kitchen/ food pantry, and she sees Jake go through the line. Mac talks with him about the roof repairs at her home that needed correcting, promising to pay him as soon as the corrections are complete. He said that he wouldn’t need her money soon as he was coming into some money. That is the last time she sees Jake alive. Shortly afterwards, the Cozy Capers Book Group is scheduled to meet at the lighthouse where Derrick and his 4-year-old daughter Cokey live. They read and discuss one cozy mystery a week (including authors and series many of us are familiar with). Derrick ran in late, out of breath. When the discussion ends, the group breaks up and Mac walks home in a heavy, hard to see through, fog.
Mac is almost home when she trips over something large. Much to her shock, she sees it is Jake Lacey, and he looks to be very dead. First on the scene after calling 911 is Victoria, the new Chief of Police in Westham and a high school nemesis of Mac’s. It is soon made known that she and Jake had words at the soup kitchen, placing her briefly on a very short suspect list.
The next morning, Orlean is late for work without notice, and Derrick is a no-show. The Cozy Capers members want to meet that night to see if they can help solve Jake’s murder to get his killer off the streets. This is not something Mac wants to do but she plans to attend. A variety of people who know Jake in one fashion or another are in Westham along with the early summer tourists and manage to appear throughout the town and businesses. A detective from the State Police, Lincoln Haskins, is doing a thorough investigation. Mac’s parents know him and are very impressed with him as a person and a detective. But what happens next through the inquisitive nature of the mystery readers and the work of the local and state police, could be anyone’s guess.
The characters in this mystery are very well defined, and I enjoyed meeting them all. Mac is my favorite; she has talents that I never thought of being attributed to a young woman in a bike shop. Not because she is a woman, but because I’ve little exposure to bicycle shops other than what I’ve heard from avid cyclists. Women are great business owners, and the skills for repair that Mac and Orlean have are much in demand in this high-tourist area. It also struck me how very different the protagonists in each of the author’s series are, so that each is a unique, fresh character. Mac’s family and friends are each unique, and the members of the Cozy Capers are willing to put their cozy mystery skills to the test to discover who the bad guy or gal might be. Mac is the one wanting to leave it to the police, yet she is the one whose life is threatened and endangered by the killer. Tim is a perfect boyfriend; they are both hard workers and understand each other’s needs.
The colorful descriptions of birds, birdsong and plant life on the Cape made me feel as if part of the scene. Sensitivity and dignity afforded to Derrick for two life situations is so wonderful! I appreciate his background that I don’t often see in cozies. The way the author handles the dragon rearing its ugly head is nothing short of outstanding. There were surprises in the interrelation of some of the characters, and the killer was a huge surprise, both the motive and the person. I was stumped and had almost given up on figuring out whodunit except for a few little clues along the way, despite the suspects who seemed much more viable. This is an exciting start to a new series; I am looking forward to seeing more of Mac, Tim, and family, and highly recommend Murder on Cape Cod!