Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Review: Berried to the Hilt by Karen MacInerney (Gray Whale Inn Mysteries #4)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and setting
Cons: Plot drags in the middle
The Bottom Line:
Shipwrecks and pirates
Spark this fun, cozy mystery
With great characters

You'll Get Berried in the Fun 

It's been a couple of years since our last visit to the Gray Whale Inn.  In that time, the bed and breakfast on Cranberry Island off the coast of Maine has turned into a full service inn, serving three meals a day.  But the owner, Natalie Barnes is still finding time to investigate a murder or two, as we learn in Berried to the Hilt, the fourth in this fun series.

With fall on the horizon, the biggest thing on Natalie's plate is the upcoming cranberry bake-off.  Somehow, she must navigate island politics and pick a winner without making the rest of her neighbors mad.

But that takes a back seat when her niece's boyfriend Adam finds a piece of an old, sunken ship.  It's either the Myra Barton, a local captain's ship, or the even older Black Marguerite, a pirate's ship.  Quicker than you can say "Shiver me timbers," there are two groups racing to identify the wreck.  The University of Maine wants to preserve it for history while the other group wants to sell any treasures on board for a profit.  Tension between the groups erupts immediately, and it only gets worse when one of the men turns up floating at the treasure site, very much dead.  When one of Natalie's friends on the island is accused of the crime, she dives into the murder investigation.  But can she find the killer?

I had forgotten just how much I loved these characters and setting until I opened the book.  Almost immediately, it was like the time had never elapsed and I felt right at home with Natalie and her friends.  They are still a fun bunch, and it was nice to see them all again.  The new characters were all great as well, and I had no trouble telling them all apart.

The island setting is cozy as well, it's a place I wouldn't mind visiting in real life, although I'll stick to summer instead of the cooler weather of the fall setting.  The writing brought it to vivid life for me while never slowing the action of the story.

The plot was the biggest stumble in the book.  It starts out strongly with plenty of action as the tension builds to the murder.  Somewhere in the middle, things stall out as Natalie doesn't seem to find any new clues but rehashes the ones she has found multiple times.  But when new clues do start coming, things pick up again, and it's a race to a climax that's pretty hair raising.

As with the others in the series, this one features several recipes in the back.  While the clam chowder doesn't excite me, there are several dessert recipes that made my mouth water.

Berried to the Hilt is a fun addition to an enjoyable series.  I'm hoping we'll get another visit to the Gray Whale Inn soon.

Looking for more trips?  Book your visit with the Gray Whale Inn Mysteries in order.

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