Thursday, November 18, 2010
With Thanksgiving approaching I naturally thought of...cranberries! This mystery series is set on Cranberry Island, named for the natural cranberries growing on the island. FYI, I discovered there really is a Cranberry Island which makes the story more tangible somehow. So this week we go North to Maine for some Pirate lore and sunken treasure. Arggggg!
Author: Karen MacInerney
Copyright: November 2010 (Midnight Ink) 280 pgs
Series: 4th in Gray Whale Inn Mysteries
Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy
Main Character: Natalie Barnes, Bed & Breakfast innkeeper
Setting: Modern day, Cranberry Island Maine
Obtained Through: publisher for honest review
The Island seems quiet as Natalie and John Quinton look to getting married soon. Natalie has been roped into judging an island baking contest which is likely to get Natalie into trouble with her neighbors. Then the normality and peace are disturbed by a ship wreck discovered by a local lobersterman. Two rival teams arrive to recover the wreckage, University of Maine Archeologists and a treasure hunting team - both groups staying at Natalie's Inn. Gerald McIntire, leader of the treasure hunters, is threatened by elderly local Eleazar for intending to take the ship's "treasure" for profit when it is the Island people's... and by the next morning McIntire is found dead- floating at the shipwreck site and Eleazar is arrested. Natalie and John vow they must clear Eleazar's name and quick. At the same time as McIntire is killed, an island teen with a penchant for trouble goes missing along with the treasure hunter's ship.
Then there is the sunken ship itself. Is the wreck the remains of the Myra Barton, the missing ship of island sea captain Jonah Selfridge? Or the elusive Black Marguerite, which belonged to one of the most notorious pirates of the 17th century and vanished without a trace—except for the ghost ship that old-timers say roams the water on fog-shrouded nights? Natalie quickly finds herself in full sleuth mode and danger draws closer to her with each new tidbit uncovered.
The Gray Whale Inn mysteries are always great escapes. Natalie is an interesting main character, having moved from Texas to open the Gray Whale Inn on Cranberry Island. The sleuthing is done around the running of the Inn and Island life. The setting is ideal for a cozy series, allowing enough variety in the vacationers while maintaining the isolated feeling. The pacing keeps a steady march throughout and the plot, while not very complicated, is sufficient to keep most readers interest to the end. The story transports and envelopes the reader to provide a mini-vacation which is one of the reasons I enjoy the series.
Natalie's Beau has not grown on me, I like him enough but have nothing I really like about him. I do enjoy Natalie's best friend Charlene who is a hoot. The island regulars are varied and eccentric which provides plenty of "characters" to flavor the story. The author does an outstanding job with transporting the reader to this slightly wild and isolated setting.
I must warn readers, Natalie is a snoop of the first degree. Under the guise of delivering fresh towels she investigates her guests' rooms. If that is something that would irritate you then you must consider whether you would still enjoy the book. The climax is first rate and suspenseful with some heart stopping moments and the wrap up is well done. Overall a solid cozy that is nicely balanced between characters and the sleuthing with plenty of Island flavor.
For those who love recipes with your mystery, this series always includes a few recipes that Natalie has made in the book for her Gray Whale Inn guests.
Since I found there really is a Cranberry Island in Maine, I found these short videos which give a good feel for the island with its rocky shores and evergreens that are prevalent in the books.
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