Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A Killer Plot - Ellery Adams

A Killer Plot
A Books By The Bay Mystery
Ellery Adams
Berkley Prime Crime


I have to admit, right up front, that I am conflicted about this book. Specifically, about the main character, the super-rich oak barrel heiress, Olivia Limoges. In the very first pages, she does so many things to turn me off to her as a character; it’s very difficult to sympathize with her. She cuts into a grocery line and crushes someone’s groceries (then proves how great she is by paying for them.) She overhears a writer’s group meeting in a diner and loudly mocks the woman reading her work-in-progress from across the room, while musing that perhaps joining this group would help her with her own writer’s block. And, she parks in a handicapped spot, rationalizing that if she gets a ticket, it’s her ‘contribution’ to the town. Never mind that someone might need the spot. My hot buttons? Consider them pushed.

All of the above happens in the first chapter. And I can’t just get over it because she’s a poor-little-rich-girl who lost both parents and was raised by a stern grandmother; or because she has a standard poodle she takes with her everywhere. At least she doesn’t try to hide who she is. It’s all right there, for everyone to see. For some reason, one of the writers in the critique group approaches her after she essentially ends their meeting with her unsolicited comments and invites her to join them next time. They’re the Bayside Book Writers, and they’re all very different people, united by their love of writing. The more time Olivia spends with them, the --ore she grows to like them, and finds that she’s making friends in spite of herself.

When one of the members of the group ends up dead in an alley with his throat slashed, Olivia is devastated. (So am I. I really liked his character.) On the wall next to his body is a haiku. Not only is that beyond strange, but a bit of research tells Olivia that the haiku is unfinished. That means the murderer may not be, either. Of course, as the most literate bunch in the tourist town of Oyster Bay, Olivia looks to the writer’s group. And there’s the new guy in town, who retired there to open a bookshop called Through The Wardrobe. But the dead man wrote a gossip column under a pen name, so there might be any number of people out to get him.

So, there’s my conflict. The mystery itself is quite good - a step above the ordinary small town cozy. The characters are written well and come across as real people, and with a rather large and varied cast, that’s an accomplishment. My problem is simply Olivia. I don’t like her. But, given the quality of the mystery and the rest of the supporting cast, I’m willing to give her another chance. Here’s hoping that she grows on me.

Rating: 7
June 2010
ISBN# 978-0-425-23522-5 (paperback)


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