Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book Review: Independence Slay by Shelley Freydont (Celebration Bay #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Characters still strong; interesting mystery
Cons: One character needs faster growth
The Bottom Line:
More holiday death
With reenactment gone wrong
Series is still strong

Just Your Normal 4th of July if by Normal You Include Ghosts and Murder

After reading and enjoying the first two Celebration Bay books last year, I was anxious to catch up on the latest in the series.  However, I held off on reading Independence Slay until close to the 4th of July since I’ve been getting such a kick out of reading these books at the appropriate holiday.  The waiting paid off because this was another winner.

If you are new to the series, Celebration Bay is a town in New York that has earned a reputation for throwing elaborate events for every holiday of the year.  The events have gotten so popular with tourists and become such an important part of the local economy that they have hired Liv Montgomery, an event planner, to oversee all of the events.  But she keeps getting involved with murders connected to the events as well.

Every 4th of July, Celebration Bay goes all out with a reenactment of a famous Revolutionary War battle that took place in town.  Okay, okay, so it’s actually a made up battle, but the town really gets behind it with effects and fireworks.  It’s all kicked off by the ghost of Henry Gallantine giving the signal for the colonists to attack.

However, this year, the ghost gives a second signal in Morse code, and Liv Montgomery and her assistant Ted go charging to where he is supposed to be only to find a man dead on the ground.  Worse yet, Leo, a “gentle soul” is found holding the murder weapon and claiming that Henry Gallantine’s ghost is the killer.  The town is certain this teen did it, but Liv isn’t buying it.  What do the rumors of a buried treasure have to do with the murder?  Can Liv figure out who the killer is before everyone turns on Leo?

The characters in this series have been strong from book one, and that stays true here.  While some of the characters from earlier books are reduced in page time in this entry, the new characters are more than strong enough to pick up the slack.  Frankly, I don’t see how the supporting players could have been worked into the book without slowing things down.

And the story didn’t leave much room for filler.  There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing about what is really happening until the very end.  Those twists go beyond the simple who done it aspect of the plot, and I really appreciated that.

I enjoyed reading the first two at the appropriate season, and this one was no exception.  The heat, the colors, the Revolutionary War battle all helped put me in the mood for my favorite summer holiday.  (Okay, so it doesn’t have much competition as summery holidays go, but I have always loved the 4th of July.)

I do have to circle back to the characters for a minute.  There is one character that hasn’t changed a lick in the series so far.  Oh, some might argue that he has changed, but if so, it’s not enough.  I get that he’s supposed to provide some comedic relief and be the love interest, but I’m still not on board with that relationship.  He needs a major makeover and soon.  I’m sure the author can do it, so I do hope it happens in the next book or two.

But this is truly a minor complaint.  I got lost in the town of Celebration Bay yet again with Independence Slay and am already looking forward to this year’s new Halloween themed entry.  If you are looking to get into the holiday spirit with a cozy mystery, this series is sure to help you no matter what that holiday is.

And once you visit, you want to read the rest of the Celebration Bay Mysteries in order.


  1. You've really got me wanting to read this series! I love the sound of the festivals and this sounds like a good mystery. Have a great 4th!

    1. It's a very good mystery and a very fun setting, too.

  2. Great review - I can't wait to read the series, though I do want to read at the appropriate season. But I don't think I can wait that long! :)

    1. The first is set in late September, and the second at Christmas, so you can get in two in by the end of the year.


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