A Reel Catch
Lotus Bay Mysteries #2
By Lorraine Bartlett
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Though it’s not yet summer, things are heating up on Lotus Bay.
Swans Nest Inn is about to open, and Kathy Grant solicits her BFF, Tori Cannon, to help spruce up her property at the marshy end of Lotus Bay, only they didn’t count on finding a body. Who was he? What’s his connection to their friend Paul Darcy? Meanwhile, two entrepreneurs with vast business ties are interested in helping Tori reopen the Lotus Lodge, and their real motives are as murky as the bay after a storm. Will Swans Nest open on time? Will the Lotus Lodge reopen at all? (From Goodreads)
A Reel Catch is a fun and suspenseful cozy mystery, second in the Lotus Bay Mysteries set in northwestern New York. Tori Cannon, Kathy Grant, and Anissa Jackson are close friends we met in With Baited Breath, first of the full-length novels in the series, and I enjoyed getting reacquainted with them. The setting sounds breathtaking even with the frequently changing April weather. The mystery is intense at times after Tori and Kathy find the remains of a man in the marsh off of Kathy’s property, and subplots add to the suspense.
Tori spent childhood summers in Lotus Bay with her grandparents, owners of Cannon Bait and Tackle and the Lotus Lodge, which has been shut down for several years. She has plans to one day renovate and modernize the cabins and rent them out during the season, but first she has to make the bait store a successful moneymaker. During the schoolyear, she works as a substitute teacher to bring in much-needed funds until the bait shop can open again.
Kathy is ready to open her B&B, Swan’s Nest, that their friend Anissa, a contractor, has spent much of the winter remodeling. Kathy dreams of having weddings, bridal showers, receptions, as well as doing catering when the season begins. She takes in a pre-opening couple that needed a room for a wedding and was vouched for by the person referring them, but their stay makes Kathy wonder if she really is ready for the challenges.
Tori is helping Kathy clear some of the dense growth near the marsh at Swan’s Nest when they see what looks like a coat floating in the water. She tries to drag it in, finds it is much heavier than anticipated, and fell into the water before discovering that there are remains of a human still inside it. There have been no missing persons reported that would account for the person – could he/ she have drifted across Lake Ontario from Canada?
Just to keep life interesting, Tori has offers from a developer who wants to purchase the Cannon compound and leave her to manage it for a pittance, and a wealthy woman wants to become Tori’s silent partner. While it would help her dream of re-opening the Lodge, she would lose the autonomy she wants, as well as giving up her family’s business. What she doesn’t understand yet is why either party is interested in the property. Her cousin, Amber, jealous of Tori being able to purchase the property from their grandfather, thinks nothing of taking the key she borrowed from her parents to enter what is now Tori’s home. She not only is quite angry when Tori gets the locks changed out, then meets and shows interest in the developer who wants to purchase the Cannon Compound.
Tori and Kathy are well-defined through their behaviors, thoughts, and conversations. I enjoy them both, as well as Anissa. All are young and hardworking, yet able to relax and have fun on a shoestring and appreciate what they have. They have each taken on huge responsibilities with their businesses and work together to help each other.
Wonderful word pictures show us the beautiful setting of Lotus Bay. The complexity of the mysteries past and present are challenging, as is trying to learn about what happened years ago without alienating current friends. Plot twists and unexpected visitors keep the ladies hopping. I was surprised at finding who the real bad guy was and why! All loose ends are tied up, leaving me look forward to the next mystery in the series. I highly recommend this to fans of the author, of young entrepreneurs, and a challenging, well-written cozy mystery.