Murder, Mayhem, And Bliss
By Loulou Harrington
Auto dealership bigwig Harold Kerr is found dead in his pool. Of course the wife, Bliss, is the first suspect in what turns out to be murder. She’s also part of a wealthy family in the oil business that includes her great aunt Vivian Windsor. Vivian and Jesselyn Camden, partner in a tea room/coffee shop, and other members of an impromptu ‘garden club’ will try to solve the mystery. And there are several suspects: Harold’s former business partner; someone connected to a nude photo of one of Harold’s affairs; jealous exes.
Nice small town murder in a small town atmosphere. The amateur detective (or in this case, detectives) vs the cops who just want them to leave things alone. But, of course, they never do. A nice plot that doesn’t get to complex.
Jesselyn Camden: 50, operates a tea room/coffee shop and an antique shop, shoulder length light brown/blonde hair, green eyes, drives an old pickup, divorced
Sophia Camden: 69, Jesselyn’s mother, cook and helps with the shops, green eyes, white blonde
Bliss Windsor Kerr: brown eyes, parents dead
Vivian Windsor: Bliss’ great aunt, family is in the oil business, husband dead, wheat blonde hair, son died in an auto accident
Joe Tyler: sheriff, deep voice, drives a pickup
Arnie Holt: county medical examiner
SueAnn Bailey: waitress, 19, redhead, freckled
Bill Marshall: former partner in Harold Kerr’s dealership, drives a black Cadillac
Cindilee Marshall: Bill’s wife, wheelchair bound, blue eyes
Maria Ortiz: administrative assistant at the dealership, dark brown eyes, has a degree in business, drives a red convertible Mustang
I know, I know. Jesse is the main character, but I loved Vivian. She stood out so well. I enjoyed at the beginning how her southern charm and grand dame attitude is roughened when everybody just walks right into her house without calling first. Then when she got her spunkiness (if I can create a word here) up I just wanted more.
I guess Jesse came across as younger than fifty for some reason.
Some overuse of ‘ing’ and ‘ly’ words in tag lines. Some pretty good voices. Vivian’s and SueAnn’s come through well as does the gruff, exasperated sheriff.
Profanity. A few punctuation errors.
Two questions that I had that seemed to have gotten bypassed. 1. Jesse’s mother was anxious that Jesse get downstairs to help in the coffee shop on the morning of the first day. Then Jesse leaves to go to Vivian’s soon afterward. Then Sophia shows up. The question is: Who’s minding the store? I suppose if the time was after three, it would have been closed for the day.
2. Alcohol plays a role in this story and when a bunch of the women are at Vivian’s they go through, what I think was, a fair amount of daiquiris. The question is: Did nobody see anything wrong with two of them driving home?
However, those were just a couple of questions that don’t really take down the story, just stuff I caught.
I really enjoyed the southern-type life, the very light humor. Other than a few minor errors, it’s very clean and tight. There is real potential here for a good series. With the number of members in the club, there are scads of possible angles for future murder mysteries.