Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bowled Over - Victoria Hamilton

Bowled Over 
A Vintage Kitchen Mystery
Victoria Hamilton
Berkley Prime Crime
The small town of Queensville, Michigan hosts a huge celebration for the Fourth of July each year.  There’s a picnic, boat races, and of course fireworks.  This year, Jaymie Leighton is a bit distracted from the festivities.  Kathy Cooper was Jaymie’s best friend in school, until, suddenly, Kathy simply froze Jaymie out of her life.  At the time, Jaymie thought time would heal things.  Then months turned into years without any resolution, and the rift festered and grew even wider. 

It’s hard to avoid someone forever in such a small town, and Jaymie finally finds herself face-to-face with Kathy.  She realizes that the silly ‘fight’ has gone on long enough, and she’s determined to find out what started it and how to fix it.  Before she can do that, Jaymie finds Kathy’s body in the park at the end of the Fourth of July picnic.  They hadn’t been close in years, obviously, but Jaymie feels the loss of her erstwhile friend.  Because the murder weapon appears to be Jaymie’s antique bowl, she both feels responsible and finds herself as the prime suspect. 

This is the second in a series, following A DEADLY GRIND, and in my opinion rises far above the first installment in tone and construction.  I found myself immediately drawn into the story.  Anyone can relate to a relationship that’s allowed to dissolve, and when Jaymie finds Kathy’s body, it’s clear that she regrets wasting so much time on some silly thing that happened in high school.  While she’s investigating, she finds out some things about the people around her and about herself in her high school years.  It all paints a picture of something that could have been fixed, but wasn’t until it was far past ‘too late.’
This time around, Jaymie uses the tried-and-true amateur sleuth technique of simply asking everyone a lot of questions.  Since the central topic is intensely personal to Jaymie, it works perfectly as a storytelling device.  The location and the residents of Queensville are brought to life on each page, making me wish I could visit.  The story moves along swiftly, with the dual investigation (into murder and a long-ago friendship) keeping everything moving.  I’m very much looking forward to another visit with Jaymie and her friends and neighbors.

Rating: 7
March 2013
ISBN# 978-0-425-25182-8 (paperback)


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