Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and twisty plot
Cons: A couple of niggle with the story
The Bottom Line:
Natalie is back
Another island murder
Ready for some twists
Things are Still Deadly on Cranberry Island
Natalie Barnes, owner of the Gray Whale Inn, makes her second appearance with this charming book, Dead and Berried. Natalie's bed and breakfast is located on
Cranberry Island, a small island just off the coast of Maine.
Since it is now October, Natalie is facing the beginnings of the off season. With few bookings at her inn over the winter months, she's hoping to make ends meet. But that soon becomes the least of her worries. A stranger noise is waking her up in the middle of the night, but when she investigates, she finds no one there. Is her inn haunted? Her ex-fiancee has shown up as a guest, wanting another chance at making their relationship work. This is making things rocky with Natalie's new boyfriend. And while she knows what the answer should be, she is tempted by his offer.
But more troubling is the death of Polly Sarkes. Polly is an island native and helped with the laundry at the Gray Whale Inn a few days a week. When she appears to vanish, Natalie goes to her house and finds her dead, an apparent suicide. At least that's what the sheriff quickly rules it, but Natalie isn't so sure. Her friend had too much life. Beside, she was in the middle of packing a suitcase. Natalie quickly learns that Polly was the only hold out in a deal to sell some land for a new development. Was that the motive for her murder?
I enjoyed the first in this series, so I was looking forward to this one. And I enjoyed it. I was glad to join these characters again. After two books, they already feel like old friends. Natalie is a very real character. Because she cares about those around her, it is easy to care for her. And even when she is debating a decision that is obvious to us, we can easily sympathize with her indecision. The other series characters are back and they are strong as well. Even some minor characters from the previous books return in supporting parts, and it was nice to see them again. There are several delicious sounding recipes at the back of the book, and just reading about them makes my mouth water.
On the whole, the plot was great with plenty of twists that kept me turning pages. I do have a couple complaints about it, however. Murder related to development on the island was the plot of book number one. Couldn't that have been a sub-plot if it had to be back instead of a potential motive yet again? Additionally, the ending, while satisfying, was rushed, with a couple things solved off page.
With the first book, I mentioned not getting a good feel for the setting. That was solved this time around, although with the previous book under my belt, I did have a head start. Still, I fell right back into the surroundings no problem. The writing has also improved, making for a much smoother read.