Everyone who has been following Olivia Limoges' story in Ellery Adams' Books By the Bay mysteries, will be pleased to discover her family secrets are finally revealed in her latest book. Written in Stone is a compelling mystery, but those of us who follow this series read it for Olivia's story as much as for the mystery. All along, Olivia has been the center of her own mystery.
Olivia Limoges is an heiress, a restauranteur, and an aspiring author. Her past has been wrapped in tragedy, the death of her beloved mother while Olivia was young, the disappearance of her father. For many years, she was part of a jet-setting circle. But, she found her true home returning to Oyster Bay, North Carolina. She and her standard poodle, Captain Haviland, found friends in the Bayside Book Writers group, including Police Chief Sawyer Rawlings, the man Olivia loves. Her restaurants are successful, one run by her newly discovered half-brother, one by a flamboyant chef, Michel.
However, recent events caused Olivia to seek privacy again. In reaction to her part in a murder investigation, "She mourned the loss of a friend and . . . her guilt over helping the authorities bring him to justice had weighed her down for months." But, her roller-skating friend, Dixie, insisted it was time to move on. She gave Olivia a message from a woman known as the witch of Oyster Bay. Munin Cooper wanted to see her because she knew Olivia's mother.
Olivia is reluctant to meet Munin, but she treks through the swamp. Once there, she receives a mysterious message with a warning and a memory jar. Soon after, when she learns of Munin's death, she's convinced her memory jar holds the secret to the woman's tragic end. It takes all of Olivia's friends in the writing group, along with a new friend who is an antiques dealer, to find the secrets behind the jar. But, there will be more death in Oyster Bay before Olivia has answers.
Ellery Adams manages to incorporate a Coastal Carolina Food Festival and a Lumbee tribal powwow in the mystery, events that are fun and interesting. Both festivals are vital to the plot. Adams creates appealing characters in her stories, bringing in new ones who will continue in the storylines. However, for so many of us who read these mysteries for the recurring characters, it's Olivia and her family secrets that take center stage. Adams manages to blindside us with a surprise I never saw coming.
Written in Stone beautifully entwines mystery, food, legend and history into an absorbing story. If you're not a mystery reader, but enjoy books with strong characters, you're missing out when you don't read the Books By the Bay mysteries. As an ongoing series, the books allow readers to return to Olivia Limoges' world time and again. Adams is an expert at enticing readers back into that world, while slowly revealing the rich secrets of the past and the lush offerings of coastal North Carolina.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
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My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.