This is the second installment in the Cycle Path Mystery Series. I didn't read the first book, so I am jumping in with this one. I can say I had to trouble picking up the story-line without reading the first. Check out the rest of my thoughts below.
Copyright: April 2016 (Berkley) 304 pgs
Series: 2nd in Cycle Path Mystery series
Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy
Main Characters: Evie Bloomfield,
Setting: Modern day, Mackinac Island Michigan- summer resort town
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
Mackinac Island is a summer destination and with the Lilac Festival gearing up it is the height of tourist season. Evie's best friend Fiona is very upset that her old boss -the editor of LA gossip newspaper Inside Scoop, Peephole Perry (Peepster), arrives on the island with his girlfriend Zo. Peepster is in his toned down persona... wearing turquoise pants, 3 gold chains, and a gold Rolex. On the very next ferry, Peepster's wife Madonna arrives and within hours he is dead. Evie runs into the body with her bicycle.
Looks like he was shoved over a patio railing and then savagely clobbered with a bottle of olive oil. Which incriminates Fiona who had met Perry at the ferry with that very bottle of olive oil. As hotel guests watch, Evie convinces Chief Nate Sutter to preserve the vital summer tourist season by going along with the story that it is a big Murder Mystery Weekend the hotel is sponsoring. Soon the guests are divided into teams to gather clues and win a prize. Hilarity ensues.
Idle Summers is the singing entertainment and is involved with Peep and Fiona somehow from their days in LA together. Turns out Peepster liked to blackmail folks, and his phone carries all his dirt - but it's missing. Fiona is hiding from Chief of Police Nate Summers while Evie tries to clear her name. In the meantime, Rudy and Irma's wedding day is approaching - but everything is failing apart and needs saving. Evie's Mother is back in town and seeing Angelo, the retired Italian mobster. Angelo's son Luka is also in town and quickly starts romancing the police lady Molly. To top it off, Evie's prior nightmare boss from Chicago, Abigail, shows up for the wedding heart broken and decides a fling with Chief Sutter will make her feel better.
Evie (aka "Chicago") and her reputed black cloud hanging over her, is a klutz and can't lie worth beans. Fiona grew up on the island, but her time in LA is haunting her with Peepster's arrival. We may never know what she did, since she is adamantly keeping quiet on what Peepster has on her. But, Evie is a devoted friend throughout. Chief of police Nate Sutter is the prerequisite cop-romantic interest, hard nosed and no-nonsense. The saving grace for his character is the reveal of his wedding planning abilities. Mother Anna Louise Bloomfield aka Carmen is a great character, I would go so far as to say she is the breakout character. Rudy and Irma are the subplot with their falling apart wedding adding extra tension to the story.
Mackinac Island, with its steep streets and no motorized transport, bad cell phone and WiFi service, where residents bet on anything: which guy has the hottest butt on the island, when will Evie and Sutter get it on - is idyllic and makes a perfect place for the funny antics. The Grand hotel and the Lilac Festival add to the local color and the island's character.
The basic plot of Peepster's murder is brilliantly augmented with the Mystery Weekend cover-up to ratchet up the humor factor. There is more-than-usual suspension of disbelief to enjoy the story, though. There is so much going on in this story that the pacing is faster than many cozies and I found myself breezing through the pages.
The killer reveal was satisfying, if a bit too quickly over. The brief wrap-up is tantalizing and leaves the reader wanting more of the zany Evie and island.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and Ms Duffy Brown's distinctive writing style. This is a fun, quirky, humorous, and fanciful mystery that hit my funny bone but also gave me a twist and kept the killer under wraps. Excellent job.
Rating: Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend.
Enjoy this short video about the actual Mackinac Island and the real Grand Hotel.