Sunday, October 26, 2008

Murder! Mayhem! Maine!

Murder Most Maine by Karen MacInerney is the third in her Gray Whale Inn series featuring innkeeper Natalie Barnes. In this installment, there is nary an evil developer in sight! There is, however, a weight-loss group staying at the Gray Whale Inn to liven things up and provide fresh victims for Ms. MacInerney's body count on tiny Cranberry Island. Seriously, this place is worse than Cabot Cove. Anyway, among the weight-loss group are handsome trainer Dirk DeLeon and his business partner Vanessa (a former summer fling of Natalie's boyfriend, John). A shifty reporter is there, ostensibly to cover the weight-loss retreat, seems to be up to something else. When Dirk is predictably found dead, Natalie's kitchen is shut down by the police, forcing her to rely on some of the other islanders. She's an outsider to Maine, but she's starting to find acceptance, and the response of her friends to her predicament is indicative of how far she's come. Her relationship with John takes another blow as John comforts Vanessa after Dirk's death (honestly, this is a symptom of a problem common to cozies: the single woman must have a love interest or two, and obstacles must come up to save the relationship from complacency). And of course, there's the murder. Natalie decides to investigate in part to help reopen her kitchen faster (in homage to the classic culinary mystery Catering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson?). The weight-loss retreat is entertaining, and the group's members a diverse lot providing plenty of entertainment, and the subplot about the lighthouse and the Underground Railroad is intriguing. As always, the best part is visiting the charming Cranberry Island, its crusty, heart-of-gold residents, and the B&B business. Recipes at the end are more diet-friendly than in the first two books, but a delightful-sounding makes up for most of the blah low-fat fare. I actually think this was the best of the three so far, but you'll want to read the first two to get acquainted with Cranberry Island and the characters who live there.

To sum up: Another fun cozy from MacInerney, who also authors the Urban Werewolf series (not really my thing, so I haven't read them yet). If you love Maine, B&Bs, cozy mysteries, and culinary mysteries, this series should be right up your alley.

My review of #1, Murder on the Rocks
My review of #2, Dead and Berried

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