Narrator: Karen White
Series: Books by the Bay #2
Published by Berkley on March 1st 2011
Genres: Cozy, Mystery
Barnes & Noble
While walking her poodle, Olivia Limoges discovers a dead body buried in the sand. Could it be connected to the bizarre burglaries plaguing Oyster Bay, North Carolina? At every crime scene, the thieves set up odd tableaus: a stick of butter with a knife through it, dolls with silver spoons in their mouths, a deck of cards with a missing queen. Olivia realizes each setup represents a cliché. And who better to decode the cliché clues than her Bayside Book Writers group?
I liked this one better than the first one. I’m honestly not sure if Olivia Limoges has mellowed a little bit, or if I’m just getting used to her. She’s still unsufferable, but this time through I found it more amusing than irritating. The stuff with the dog is still silly, and Olivia is still an unbearable snob, but I guess I’m just more used to her this time around.
The mystery in this one made a little more sense than the first book, too. The resolution in that one was a little convoluted, a little bit of a stretch. This one was a little more straightforward. Well, the motivation behind the crimes was pretty straightforward. I’m still not completely clear on why the criminals decided that robberies would be the form of revenge they’d go with. I mean, why robbery specifically. Especially since they weren’t planning on getting caught. Breaking into the houses of a bunch of rich people and stealing their computers and televisions isn’t much of a revenge, frankly. (Yes, in a few instances, it gets more serious than that, but only as a matter of opportunity and chance, not as a matter of planning.)
I will say, the sections that are actually pieces of the writing club’s work get a little clunky. They don’t fit in with the story, there’s no connection or deeper meaning to them, and they stop the action. It seems like Laurel’s new piece might give us a little insight into her and what’s going on at home, and Rawlings’ piece is a thinly veiled autobiographical piece, but we haven’t really learned anything from it that we couldn’t learn from a conversation between him and Olivia.
And speaking of Laurel, I am so glad she went after that reporting job and got it. But, boy, I really want her to tell her husband and in-laws to take a hike. Well, that might be a little harsh. But I at least want her to stick up for herself with them. I hope that her story will end up being like Dot from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (and if you haven’t watched that yet, get on it immediately). Dot started out very much a product of her time, but over the course of the three seasons she spends with Phyrne Fisher, she really comes into her own as a woman and an individual. She’s able to grow and change greatly as a person, she’s able to realize that her needs and wants and likes and dislikes and feelings are just as important as her fiance, Hugh’s. That just because she’s a woman and he’s a man, she doesn’t have to quit her job and spend her days cooking and cleaning his house. Dot wants to keep her job as Miss Fisher’s assistant, and she’s going to keep it. I really want Laurel to have a similar arc. Now, Olivia Limoges is no Phryne Fisher. But if her influence can help Laurel come into her own, I’m all for it. And as a side note, there’s no way Laurel’s husband Steve isn’t having an affair. Probably with his dental hygienist or something cliche like that.
The narration – this is going to sound worse than I mean it to, but I figured out why Karen White’s narration can annoy me sometimes. She has a bit of William Shatner-itis. She doesn’t sound like William Shatner exactly, but her narration has some of the same strange spacing and weird emphases that Shatner does. She sometimes manages to emphasize every word in a sentence, which makes her voices, her male voices especially, sound sort of pompous and bombastic and yet monotone at the same time.
This is a fun series. It’s a nice break from some of the romantic suspense and more angsty stuff I’ve been reading recently. I’m looking forward to more of them and to trying some of Adams’ other series, too. There was a new family element added in for Olivia, too, and I’m really excited to see how she deals with that. Something tells me it’s going to be a little rough on her.