Lethal Letters A Books by the Bay Mystery #6 By Ellery Adams ISBN# 9780425270837 Author’s Website: http://www.elleryadamsmysteries.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
*Beware of Spoilers*
Restaurant owner and aspiring novelist Olivia Limoges is busy planning a delicious menu for Oyster Bay’s biggest soiree of the spring. But she’ll need to serve some justice as well after one resident gets eighty-sixed…
Everyone’s got their hands full in Oyster Bay, North Carolina. Aside from two upcoming weddings, there’s also the historical society’s annual fund-raiser: the Secret Garden Party and Candlelit Ball. Adding to the excitement, Olivia witnesses the discovery of a time capsule in the foundation of a local church. The historical society president hopes to display its contents at their party, but when the items are finally revealed to the public, Olivia notices one of them has vanished.
After a frightening find beneath the pier—the body of Ruthie Holcomb—Olivia is certain there’s a connection between the young woman’s death and the missing piece from the time capsule. With the help of her fellow Bayside Book Writers, Olivia sets out to uncover some clues and ensure a killer has no reason to celebrate…(Goodreads)
There is a lot going on in Oyster Bay, NC, as this sixth installment in the Books by the Bay Mystery Series opens. Michel, Olivia’s head chef, has turned into a groomzilla as his wedding to the local desserterie proprietor approaches. This, in turn, leads to some pressure about Olivia’s upcoming nuptials to the town’s police chief, Rawlings. Olivia and Michel are also helping with preparations for the historical society’s annual fundraiser. Thinking she will kill two birds with one stone, Olivia accompanies Michel to the Presbyterian Church (more wedding planning) where she plans to then step next door to the historical society. However, soon after arriving at the church, the workers who are there for a construction project grab Pastor Jeffries to come see what they have uncovered in the wall.
It is a hundred year old time capsule. After Pastor Jeffries’ initial excitement at the discovery, he sees something in the box that changes his tune and rushes out to find Bellamy Drummond, the historical society president and the church’s biggest benefactor. Of course, the pastor’s look of shock and fear pique Olivia’s interest in the capsule, but she can only complete a cursory search before everyone returns, and Bellamy decides to do an inventory of the capsule’s contents and make its unveiling part of the society fundraiser. When Olivia finally does see the contents, she believes an object is missing and sets out to find it.
In addition, something seems off at the bagel and coffee shop, and Olivia’s friend and fellow writing club member, Laurel, thinks that drug running may be at the heart of the problem. Finally, Charles Wade has swept into town and purchased the local bookstore with plans to expand. Olivia is concerned that his plans will not fit in well in her beloved town and is afraid that her secret, that Charles is really her father, will be revealed. See…a lot going on.
Meanwhile, during a day at the beach with her niece and nephew, Olivia stumbles upon the body of a young woman, Ruthie Holcomb, under the pier. This is, of course, a murder mystery after all. She does not know Ruthie personally, but her heart goes out to the peaceful looking girl. Did she die from an overdose? Did she commit suicide? Was it foul play? When Olivia discovers Ruthie is Bellamy’s daughter Stella’s best friend, she cannot help but wonder if her death is related to the time capsule or to any of the other things going on in town. With the help of her writing group members and Rawlings, she is determined to get to the bottom of all the mysteries. And eventually get married. Though there is a lot going on with the plot, it is not a mess, and everything ties together by the end of the book.
This is one of my favorite series, and Ms. Adams writes smart, engaging, mature characters. Olivia started out the series as an aloof woman who was somewhat emotionally stunted. She had issues with grief and abandonment and was slow to warm up to the people around her despite deeply loving her hometown. Through the course of the series, she has dealt with her issues, though shadows sometimes appear, and found a family in her half-brother, her writing friends, and her beloved police chief. There is no melodrama or caricatures of Southern personalities here, just characters who face true to life problems and relationships. The writing and subject matters addressed make this series meatier than the average cozy. I would suggest readers begin this series with book one, A Killer Plot, in order to see all of the characters’ growth and to learn everyone’s back story. And, I absolutely love Captain Haviland, the standard poodle. He has no paranormal powers or anything but adds so much to the story telling.
As I have come to expect with Ms. Adams’ books, Lethal Letters is an excellent read. I love Oyster Bay and its inhabitants, and I think you will love them, too. I look forward to many more enjoyable hours with them in future installments. I highly recommend this to fans of the series, lovers of the ocean atmosphere, and anyone who likes their heroines smart.