An intriguing group of regulars in the Bayside Book Writers are curious about author Nick Plumley’s arrival in their community. In the third entry in Ellery Adams’ “Books by the Bay” mysteries, the community, characters and back-story are filled in before the murder occurs about a third of the way through the book. Whether this is the first book in the series you have read or you have enjoyed A Killer Plot and/or A Deadly Cliché before this, you will find wealthy Olivia Limoges and her cohorts entertaining reading.
There are some fascinating subplots going on as well. I really relish mysteries that not only entertain but educate. The Last Word tells us a bit about the New Bern Prison Camp (in North Carolina) and gives us some background on the WWII prison camps in the United States. These men—including men from several nations and some avowed Nazis—were accepted in the community, worked in jobs on local farms and mills vacated by American men off to war, and became a part of local society. POWs were even encouraged to engage in capitalistic trades, making art and handiwork to sell.
Woven through the storyline, the distant past (the Tarheel state’s POWs) runs into greed and cover-ups in the 21st century. Olivia, knee-deep in starting a restaurant with newfound brother Hudson and his pregnant wife, is taken aback by mysterious Nick Plumley’s past. Will it affect her slow-budding romantic relationship with the town’s Sheriff Rawlings?
The characters are described so well that you become comfortably immersed in the story, appreciating the subtle additions such as Olivia’s charmer of a dog, Haviland (Captain Haviland, to be exact), a standard poodle with above-standard tastes and talents. Olivia juggles all her concerns, restaurants, family, friends, writers’ club and mysteries with great aplomb and charming finesse.
The grand finale shows that Adams keeps all the plotlines in her capable hands, bringing a dénouement that is as clever as it is pleasurable to read. My only complaint about the book, and this a minor one, is the presence of some editing snafus, including the wrong names used in one scene, but that doesn’t detract much from the overall satisfaction of the book. Recommended for a winter’s night, curled up in front of a cozy fireplace.