Trick or Deceit
A Celebration Bay Mystery #4
By Shelley Feydont
Author Website: shelleyfreydont.com
This October in Celebration Bay, you can’t swing a black cat without hitting a haunted house. There are three finalists in the contest for the town’s official Haunted House, and ten thousand dollars will go to the winner, with the rest of the contributions and proceeds funding a new community center. Event coordinator Liv Montgomery has invited her friend Jonathan Preston, the debonair CEO of a philanthropic organization, hoping he will award a grant to the center.
But after the Museum of Yankee Horrors wins first place, the transformed Victorian boarding house is vandalized … and among scattered mannequins of Hester Prynne, Lizzie Borden, and the Headless Horseman, a real dead body is found—one of the contest judges. Now in addition to playing host to Jon, Liv has to play detective and coordinate the clues to unmask a self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner. (Goodreads)
Trick or Deceit, the fourth installment in the Celebration Bay Mystery series, is a fun romp for readers who, like me, enjoy fall and holiday themed cozies.
Celebration Bay is a bucolic, charming, small town in New York that is making a name for itself as a holiday tourist destination. It is in desperate need of a new community center and has planned a haunted house competition for the residents with all proceeds going towards a new center. Liv, who is the town’s event coordinator, is overseeing the Halloween fun and hopes that Jon, her friend from her former life in Manhattan, will use his influence in awarding a grant for the project. Barry Lindquist’s Museum of Yankee Horrors is crowned the winner, but the celebration is short lived. The museum is vandalized overnight, and all of the exhibit mannequins have been dumped in an adjacent field. It is quite a shock when the body of one of the judges, Lucille Foster, is found a midst the detritus. Now time is of the essence to put things to right in time for the haunted house tours and before Jon comes to town to inspect the current community center, all while trying to get to the bottom of Lucille’s death. Liv has gained a reputation about town as a problem solver, and it seems the entire town expects her to unmask the murderer. Hopefully, she can do so without losing their chance at the grant money as more and more motives and suspects, including Jon, surface.
This is my first trip to Celebration Bay, but it will definitely not be my last. Even though I have not read the previous entries in the series, I had no trouble jumping right in with the characters and setting. I am a sucker for holiday themed cozy mysteries, especially those set during the autumn months. The town has a lot to offer its visitors, and this setting is perhaps the book’s biggest draw. I would love to participate in the Zombie Walk and tour the haunted houses, all while enjoying the food and sundries that the local shops provide. There is even a witch newly arrived in town to add to the Halloween vibe.
Liv is a practical, level headed protagonist who does not thoughtlessly place herself in the path of danger. Her friends, coworker, and landladies all seem to genuinely care for her. Their sometimes bumbling assistance provides some light moments throughout the story. I do wish, however, that they were more richly developed. I appreciate that the local law enforcement is treated with respect and not simply portrayed as inept investigators. Liv and Sheriff Bill have open exchanges of ideas and work together to solve the crimes. Many times in cozies the amateur sleuths have no real reason other than nosiness to ingratiate themselves in an investigation, but Liv has a vested interest in the outcome since it affects the town and her job. Whiskey, the Westie, is my favorite character. He brightens every scene he was in.
As much as I like the setting and the basis for the characters, I think the mystery itself is a bit mundane and predictable. There are times when the story drags for lack of development. However, I do not think that this took away from my enjoyment of the book.
Overall, I enjoyed Trick or Deceit. It is a frothy, entertaining trip to a quaint town. I recommend it to fans of holiday themed cozies.