Monday, March 3, 2014

A DEADLY CLICHÉ by Ellery Adams


Publisher:  Berkley
Published:   March 1, 2011
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Book format:  Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher   
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Taking a break from running her restaurant and preparing her week’s critique Olivia Limoges heads down the beach with her standard poodle, Haviland.  While Haviland frolics on the beach Olivia uses her Bounty Hunter metal detector, but what she finds under the sand isn’t quite the treasures she was hoping for.  Rather she is greeted with the unpleasant discovery of a dead body.  She wastes no time calling for her friend and fellow writer’s group member, Sheriff Rawlings.  Once the police arrive the questions mount including just why was the dead man buried naked with a little beach pail in his hand?  On the heels of the murder a series of burglaries are committed and they too have a strange signature to them.  When another writer’s group member, Laura, discovers one of her neighbors has been burgled Laura decides to dip into investigating the crime. 

Laura has wanted to write for as long as she can remember with one of her dreams to be a journalist.  When the opportunity arises to work for the local paper she really wants to pursue the job, but her dentist husband will never go for it.  He wants her home taking care of their toddler twins.  But Laura is determined and between she and Olivia they find a way that maybe Laura can have it all.  Before Laura can write her first article – an interview with one a burgled neighbour, another friend is robbed and her husband left for dead.  Things in otherwise bucolic Oyster Bay have turned stormy and not just because a category three hurricane is knocking at their door. 

I really enjoyed book one of Ellery Adams first book in her Books by the Bay series, A KILLER PLOT and looked forward to book 2, A DEADLY CLICHÉ.  I was sadly disappointed.  The mystery was in and of itself interesting and I definitely didn’t see the ending coming.  The clues were added and built on nicely and the way the writers have gotten to know each other, especially in the aftermath of the death of one of their own, proceeds at a nice pace. 

The problem I had with the story was that it seemed like Ms. Adams had some goals for the series and just wasn’t sure which threads she wanted to address first so she just tossed them all in creating a bit of a mishmash.  There was the long term mystery of just what happened to Olivia’s father and the more immediate ones of who killed the man in the sand and who was burglarizing and robbing the various homes.  Had she split them into two books it would have made for much better reading.  With Olivia’s dad missing for over thirty years he could have stayed missing for another book and maybe led Olivia to another killer. 

A few times I wondered where the editor was or why the author herself hadn’t caught a major inconsistency….when a hurricane thunders through the town, knocking down trees, smashing windows and cutting power, how did a second of beach remain not only untouched by the storm, but that the car tracks and footprints from several days before are still clearly there.  Beach terrains tend not to remain quite the same in the best of conditions and after a hurricane…well…someone dropped the continuity thread there.

Changing relationships mid-way was okay—although the tension of having the two men vie for Olivia could have played well in a few future stories.  But it was just too pat. 

We do see a glimpse of Olivia’s childhood and why she is supposedly aloof and uncaring as an adult.  I look forward to seeing that story unfold in future books.  Despite my disappointment in this one I do plan to read book 3 and see where that takes us.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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