Letters in the Library
The Inn at Holiday Bay #2
By Kathi Daley
ISBN:1795427795 (ISBN13: 9781795427791)
Author Website: www.kathidaley.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
A heartwarming cozy mystery series about losing everything, taking a chance, and starting again.
After suffering a personal tragedy Abby Sullivan buys a huge old seaside mansion she has never even seen, packs up her life in San Francisco, and moves to Holiday Bay Maine, where she is adopted, quite against her will, by a huge Maine Coon Cat named Rufus, a drifter with her own tragic past named Georgia, and a giant dog with an inferiority complex named Ramos. What Abby thought she needed was alone time to heal. What she ended up with was, an inn she never knew she wanted, a cat she couldn’t seem to convince to leave, and a new family she’d never be able to live without.
In book 2 of the series, Abby finds a bundle of letters which had been written in 1954 in the wall of the library after Lonnie tears it down as part of the remodel. Intrigued by the secret revealed in the letters, Abby and Georgia set out to find the rest of the story.
Meanwhile, Chief Colt Wilder uncovers a new clue relating to the death of a local girl the previous summer. In spite of her vow to focus her time on her writing, Abby finds herself pulled into the tangled web of half-truths that may tell a different story than was first believed true.
Join Abby, Georgia, Rufus, and Ramos, as they continue with the remodel on the old mansion, prepare for a busy summer season, and continue to find a new meaning for their lives in the charming small town of Holiday Bay. (from Goodreads)
Second in the thoughtful, intriguing Inn at Holiday Bay series, we return to Holiday Bay, Maine in January. It is Abby Sullivan’s first winter where there is snow – a lot of snow. I like this new series, this cozy mystery. The characters are unique and likable, Holiday Bay is the ideal small town filled with folks who are like family to each other, and a primary, complex mystery with additional minor mysteries.
Abby, a young widow, moved to Holiday Bay and purchased an 1890’s mansion on the bluff, sight unseen, and moved across the country to. She is turning the mansion into a B&B; renovations should be complete by July so she can open for part of the tourist season. She is joined by her new best friend, Georgia, another young widow who lost everything through her husband’s criminal conviction and suicide. They and the folks of Holiday Bay embrace each other; it is a place Abby finally calls home. While renovations are ongoing at the bluff house, she and Georgia live in the guest house. Georgia will be the manager and chef at the Inn.
Abby has been a bestselling author, just now returning to her career after the death of her husband and son. Her late husband was a homicide detective in San Francisco. When he had particularly challenging cases, they talked about clues and theories. Abby has a way of asking questions and looking at details that others do not. Not only was she a huge help to Ben, she has proven to be a confidential helper to the Holiday Bay police chief.
There is a new twist to a death that occurred the prior summer. Karen Stinson was initially thought to be hiking alone when she fell to her death. Based on a murder and disappearance in the prior novel, Abby, Georgia, and Chief of Police Colt Wilder wondered if her death was somehow related. Colt had sent a copy of the autopsy results to a friend out of state to see if he or the ME had overlooked something. While what was uncovered indicated the young woman might have been pushed, information and memorabilia that her close friend was given showed a new, chilling picture. Karen’s death might be related to the murder of her brother, a former neighbor of Karen and her brother in the Midwest, and the accident that claimed the lives of Abby’s husband and infant son.
While talking with her second closest friend in Holiday Bay, Velma, owner of Velma’s Café, Abby learned that, like her, Velma has a sister she is estranged from. Abby’s estrangement from her sister has been less than a year; she continues to try to keep communication open with Annie. Velma’s, however, started over 30 years ago and she has no idea where her sister disappeared to. Abby wonders if it is possible for her to find Velma’s sister, but quietly does some research without letting Velma know.
Plumbing changes necessitated removal of the library shelves in the Inn. Behind the shelves was a fascinating find: a collection of letters between a couple named Ursula and Victor. Ursula apparently was a guest when the mansion was Bluff House Spa and Resort in the 1940’s. She and Victor referred to a “gift” he left with her in the letters. As Georgia studies the letters, she wonders if the gift is a baby. She then wonders if it is possible to find either of the letter writers or the child they may have had.
I genuinely like the characters in this series and how well they are defined by actions and conversations and, for Abby, her thoughts and feelings. There is a sweet fellowship of folks in Holiday Bay, many of whom will do anything to help another. The characters have a depth and vulnerability that will appeal to those who have lost loved ones, rescue animals, successfully start over after tragedies, and appreciate intelligent protagonists.
While I am not a fan of open-ended mysteries, the currently unsolved portion of this novel is not a huge cliffhanger. It is pleasant to read a cozy mystery in which romance is not part of the novel’s focus. Instead, Georgia and Abby are in a season of bonding with their new community and friends without the angst of meeting guys as anything other than friends and I appreciate that their boundaries for their grief are respected. The mysteries are interesting; the primary mystery is complex and may still have implications for the future. It certainly was not one that I could solve, as I didn’t see enough clues to lead my mind in the direction Abby and Colt investigated. I highly recommend this novel; it is a series that I hope to see much more of!