Speak Ill of the Dead
A Camilla MacPhee Mystery, Book #1
By: Mary Jane Maffini
Author’s Website: maryjanemaffini(.)ca
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
In the first Camilla MacPhee mystery, Camilla runs a law office specializing in Justice for Victims of violent crimes. Her uneasy association with the world of crime takes a bizarre turn when a vicious fashion columnist is crucified in a downtown hotel room. Camilla’s best friend, Robin, was on her way to meet the victim and has become the main suspect. Camilla sets out to vindicate her friend, but the investigation turns dangerous, as she receives cryptic warnings while following a grisly killer’s trail marked by more murders. (Goodreads)
Speak Ill of the Dead is the first book in the Camilla MacPhee Mystery series by Canadian author Mary Jane Maffini. I read this book for a book club meeting where each member was asked to read any title by Mary Jane Maffini. As a special treat, the author came to our book club meeting. I must say, I wish I had discovered the writings of Mary Jane Maffini earlier.
Speak Ill of the Dead is an auspicious beginning to the series. I found the protagonist, Camilla, relatable and easy to like. I really enjoyed the narrative while Camilla was either out walking or driving around Ottawa. As I know the places that she travelled, I visualized her going about her daily life through the streets of Ottawa. Gave a unique perspective on this mystery, given that I knew where most of the landmarks were, as opposed to other mysteries I have read where the towns were not necessarily identifiable as a real place to me. And to be set during the Tulip Festival was a good choice, in my opinion.
Camilla McPhee is a unique person and not at all like her sisters! Fashion and presenting oneself in a particular manner are traits her sisters embrace, but not Camilla… she beats to her own rhythm, especially since the death of her husband. Camilla is a lawyer, fighting for the rights of those in need at Justice for Victims. Many other characters throughout the book assist Camilla in unravelling who murdered Mitzi Brochu, a fashion guru, in her hotel room. While Mitzi was certainly a loud and annoying (as well as nosey) individual, she certainly did not deserve to die.
Camilla gets involved because her friend, Robin, a real estate lawyer, is accused of murdering Mitzi. Convinced that Robin is innocent, Camilla sets out to prove that it could not have been Robin who killed Mitzi. And as we learn throughout the story, there were certainly no shortage of people wishing Mitzi dead.
The next door neighbor (Mrs. Parnell) is a hoot of a character. I chuckled more with her antics…☺ She was definitely an asset to Camilla’s sleuthing team. And of course, lets not forget Alvin. He definitely is an interesting character. You ask who Alvin is? Well he is Camilla’s assistant at Justice for Victims, performing whatever task Camilla assigns to him. Their relationship is built on antagonism – but with heart and caring (from what I can tell).
As with any good mystery, I am happy to report that I was not 100% certain (though I had a VERY strong suspicion) of ‘whodunit’ until the reveal. Just the way I like my mysteries. I am looking forward to reading more of this series.
As an added bonus, I have had the pleasure of meeting up with Ms. Maffini on numerous occasions following the book club meeting – at other local author’s book release parties. Who knew there was such a large contingent of mystery writers in Ottawa!!!