Third Time’s a Crime
A Love or Money Mystery, Book #3
By Diana Orgain
Author’s Website: dianaorgain.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
After two hit reality TV shows brought ex-detective Georgia Thornton into America’s living rooms, audiences can’t get enough of her quest for love and justice. Now producers have come up with an all-new show set in a haunted castle in Golden, California. Georgia and nine other contestants will need to solve the mystery of a teenage girl who disappeared at the castle in 1968.
Except there’s one rather substantial problem waiting for everyone when they arrive: one of the groundskeepers is found drowned at the bottom of the castle’s empty pool. Now Georgia and the other contestants will need to work together, because there’s a different sort of game afoot—and it’s not one they can afford to lose.
Third Time’s A Crime is, in my opinion, the best so far in Diana Orgain’s series, A Love or Money Mystery. Diana has another hit with this setting and the mysteries within. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Georgia and Scott figure out who the bad guy/ gal, especially when it appears that somebody is going after Georgia and her loved ones. The author’s description of the setting, including the beauty of the area and the gardens contrasted with the dark, cold interior of the castle, the living quarters, kitchen, “solitary”, and the corridors and stairs has enough detail to be enticing.
Georgia and Scott have been invited to participate in a new reality TV show, Cold Case in the Castle, that is filmed on location in a haunted castle that was originally a reform school for boys. Georgia and Scott are one of five pairs of people who are attempting to solve a mystery from about 50 years earlier, the murder of a young woman who was the librarian at the castle. She was one of only a handful of women who worked and lived there. Other pairs include a forensic anthropologist and an FBI profiler who were well known on the show, Hunting Bones. one pair includes a priest, one a psychic who looked like a lumberjack, and one the niece of the murdered librarian.
As with other reality programs, the couples rely on the votes of their fans; one couple would be eliminated per day. Some had fans from previous shows, such as the couple from Hunting Bones, as well as Scott and Georgia. As the games begin, they have to surrender their phones, tablets, and laptops. Each pair would receive one item to help them on the search, and they could form alliances with other teams to maximize use of whatever item they had.
The creep-out factor began before the filming did with an impending storm and hundreds of blackbirds flocking to the property from the ocean, crashing into the castle, breaking windows. Georgia found the body of a groundskeeper is found in the long-empty, abandoned pool. She didn’t share her vision with anyone in which Jane came seeking her help to get justice for her murder. It just gets better and better, and could be a setting for one of Scott’s horror stories!
The characters are so well-defined that they could step off the pages and into the castle. The author’s skill with dialog, wit and humor shine and highlight our favorite and our one-time characters. The other four teams of folks on Cold Case are each uniquely eccentric: at times they are more competitive than a tennis player at Wimbledon and at other times as creepy as the castle seemed to be. Yet they all fit together into the whole of the novel, each contributing to the sometimes wacky world of Hollywood filming.
The stakes are higher than ever for Georgia. If she and Scott are able to stay in the game through to the final two couples, a big-time reality show, Global Tracker, has expressed interest in hiring her. If they were prepared to make an offer to her, they would be equally interested in the team with the forensic anthropologist and the FBI profiler, giving Georgia a secondary interest in solving the crime. To her credit, her primary interest was to get justice for the Jane.
The plot keeps a reader’s attention; it drew me in from the first page through to the end. There were more twists and turns than the staircases, bringing continual change to the landscape of the story. There is more than one mystery, adding to the intrigue at any given time. Does Jane’s spirit – or those of boys who died there – haunt the castle? Father Gabriel seems to think so, as he wants to release all the spirits trapped inside, even though it conflicts with his purpose of being there. While I might appreciate seeing a castle like this in the daylight, when I think about sleeping there at night, I am very content with being an armchair sleuth! I did not figure out who the bad guy/ gal was, but found the ending and resolutions to be very satisfying. I highly recommend Third Time’s a Crime and the first two books in the series to anyone who enjoys creepy settings and reality TV with a bit of romance in their cozy mysteries.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*