Much Ado about Nauticaling
Whit and Whiskers Mystery #1
By Gabby Allan
Author’s website: gabbyallan.wordpress.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Whitney Dagner is your tour guide to a Pacific paradise that’s to die for–only to find it’s a place people are also willing to kill for–in Gabby Allan’s Much Ado About Nauticaling, first in the “Whit and Whiskers Mystery” series.
After far too many years in the Los Angeles corporate world, Whitney Dagner has come home to Santa Catalina Island off the California coast to help her brother Nick run Nautically Yours, the family tourism business. Between gift shop shifts selling all manner of T-shirts and tchotchkes and keeping her feline Whiskers in fine fettle, she pilots the Sea Bounder, a glass bottom boat showing tourists the underwater sights of aquatic plants, marine life–and a murder victim?
The self-proclaimed Master of the Island, Jules Tisdale was a wealthy man with business interests throughout Catalina who was about to be honored as Person of the Year before someone strangled him with his own tie and tossed his body into the water. That someone appears to be Nick, who had a raw deal from Jules and no alibi the night of his murder. To clear her brother’s name, Whit will have to investigate Jules’ shady associates and not exactly grief-stricken family members–with the unwelcome help of Felix Ramirez, police diver and Whit’s ex-boyfriend who’s looking to rekindle their relationship. (from Goodreads)
This is a solid start to a new series that I greatly enjoyed. The author’s writing flows well, and there were some scenes outrageously, laugh-out-loud funny! There are also very serious scenes; both are written with excellence. Descriptions of the setting, Catalina Island, make me want to visit there for a year or two. The characters, most of whom are extremely likable, came to life. The mystery kept me guessing throughout until I almost gave up searching for the solution.
Whitney and her brother Nick are now in charge of the family business, Nautically Yours, in which they lead tours on a glass bottom boat. Their grandparents, Pops and Goldy, have only recently relinquished it but they help out frequently.
Whitney leads some of the tours. Part of the reason she left her high-stress job on the mainland is to open a gift shop. She offers products from many local craftspeople. She is open for business even as she completes stocking it and will have her grand opening in a few weeks.
Whitney took a special tour one evening when Nick was on the mainland for business. The tour was a pre-dinner celebration for the new Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year. About 30 years older than his wife, Tracy, Jules spends much of his time in Los Angeles. Instead of enjoying sea life, most guests were busy on their smartphones. When the cruise was complete, the guests headed for the dinner, and Whitney heard Tracy tell Jules that she had to run by the house for something. Whitney also saw Jules’s cousin Rebecca, who had once been her babysitter. They spoke briefly before Rebecca left with the rest of the guests, and Whitney took out the next scheduled tour.
When docking from the trip, Nick was there to tie up the boat. Thankfully, the guests had all departed by the time Whitney saw a well-dressed man floating underneath the glass bottom. Dead. It was Jules. The deputy taking statements didn’t bother getting one from Whitney, only Nick. A few hours later Maribel, her roommate and the dispatcher at the sheriff’s office, called Whitney and said Jules’s death was ruled a homicide. Police went to pick up Nick for questioning, and he tried to run and crashed his golf cart. Whitney went to the station to see Nick if possible and be available if they have questions for her.
The chief wanted an arrest within 24 hours, and they have eyes on only one person. Nick. Nick, who has kept a few secrets from Whitney and their grandparents, including where he really was on the day of the murder and the fight Nick and Jules had that was witnessed by others. Whitney is determined to find who really killed Jules before Nick is charged. Then Nick disappears, and she learns some of his secrets.
It was fun to meet Whitney, her family and friends, and the ex-boyfriend who moved to Catalina because he wanted to get back together. Whitney and her grandmother, Goldy, are two of my favorites; Goldy is a real hoot if she is even half as much fun as described! Maribel is a great friend, and she walks a fine line between being a friend and roommate while keeping confidentiality of the investigation.
Whitney learned many unflattering things about a former schoolmate, Tracy, after Jules was killed. Even worse, she learned things about Nick that she wished she hadn’t, things that make her struggle to not doubt his innocence. The very likable characters, the mystery itself, and a couple red herrings kept me engaged throughout. The solution held very unexpected and overall satisfying surprises. I am looking forward to the next in series, and highly recommend this to fans of well-written cozy mysteries.