Book Review: The Body in Bodega Bay by Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden @UWiscPress

The Body in Bodega Bay
A Nora Barnes and Toby Sandler Mystery #2
Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden
Terrace Books/University of Wisconsin Press, September 2020
ISBN 978-0-299-29794-7

Trade paperback

When the body of a murdered man is found in a boat floating in Bodega Bay, married couple Nora Barnes and Toby Sandler are astonished to discover it is Charlie Halloran, Toby’s new partner in his art and antiques gallery. Charlie had been the most personable of men. Who would want to kill him? The answer, they soon discover, lies within the antique business, an auction Charlie had just attended, and his purchase of an old Russian icon—which has now disappeared.
Nora is an art history teacher at Sonoma College, and with Toby’s expertise in antiques, they are called upon to help the resident deputy, Dan Ellis, with the investigation. Clues mount up. People who may have had a connection to the missing icon are contacted and investigated, but the case moves slowly without the icon. When at last the icon is found, the chase intensifies.

There’s nothing I like more than a treasure hunt, and this one is particularly interesting. I love hidden recesses in old furniture. Buried treasure is a hoot. And most intriguing is the way that in an age when used items were not discarded (and thank goodness for that or we’d be lacking in humankind’s history) but reused. Old canvases were painted over. You’d guessed that, hadn’t you?

I love reading about the processes involved in reclamation projects. Specifically, in this case I loved the chase not only of a murderer, but the solving of an even older mystery. The Body in Bodega Bay is a fine way to spend a few hours.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, November 2020.
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Five Days, Five Dead: A China Bohannon Novel

Book Review: Murder in Devon by Maggi Andersen

Murder in Devon
Originally published as Casey’s Luck by Maggi Coleman
Maggi Andersen
Black Opal Books, February 2012
ISBN 978-1-937329-33-4
Also available as a trade paperback

From the publisher—

She wants the truth, but it may cost her more than she thinks…

An ex-patriot-American living in England, magazine reporter Casey Rowan wakes to find one best friend murdered and another seriously injured. Casey is determined to find the killer, despite running afoul of the detective in charge of the case—a blue-eyed Scot named Rod Carlisle, who considers her a prime suspect. As Casey gets closer to the truth, losing her heart to the sexy cop isn’t the only thing she risks. Now her life is danger, too.

He wants her, but he may have to choose between love and duty…

Rod has no patience with civilians who interfere in police matters, even hot little numbers like Casey. Though he tries to keep things professional, Casey’s beauty and spunk are hard to resist. He warns her that what she’s doing is dangerous, but he only succeeds in alienating her. She refuses to listen and goes off on her own with disastrous results. Now Rod’s in a race to find the killer before the woman he loves becomes the next victim.

On the surface, Murder in Devon is not much different from many other English mysteries and that’s not a bad thing. There’s a certain comfort to be found in familiar locales and with British police and homes and personalities. A developing romance is not unwelcome and our leading lady is intelligent and perfectly capable of ferreting out some answers although she does jump into the fray a little precipitously perhaps because she herself starts out as a prime suspect. Having said that, I must confess that there’s one thing about Casey that I particularly liked.

Casey stands up for herself.

So often, the heroine defies the police behind their backs and puts herself in harm’s way without thinking through the possible consequences. Casey, though, has a different modus operandi—she tells the detective what she intends to do, listens to him tell her why she shouldn’t do it, and then tells him she’s going to do it anyway. No sneaking around avoiding Rod and, while he may be unhappy about it, Rod knows the score and deals with it accordingly. How refreshing is that?

The mystery here is solid with plenty of possible motives and killers and I, for one, did not figure it out too early. I had my suspicions but that’s all they were until near the end and the unearthing of powerful secrets added a great deal to the story.

Maggi Andersen lives in Australia but has set this mystery in England. Was that a good idea? Well, there are two ways I look at that. I truly love fiction set in the British Isles, especially mystery, and that setting certainly can’t be beat for atmosphere. On the other hand, Australia calls to me and I find myself searching for genre fiction set there so I would not have been unhappy if Ms. Andersen had chosen to locate her story in that part of the world. Then again, the fact that Casey is an American ex-pat probably makes more sense, logistically, if England is her second home. So, I was more than content to be “visiting” England this time and perhaps the author will favor us with an Australian mystery down the road. In the meantime, I’ll look forward to what I hope will be many more investigations for Casey and Rod.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2012.

Come back tomorrow for a chance to win a copy of

Murder in Devon by Maggi Andersen

and to enjoy Maggi’s guest blog.