Monday, June 9, 2014

Independence Slay

Author:  Shelley Freydont
Genre:  Mystery

Five Stars

With Independence Day fast approaching, Liv Montgomery is swamped with coordinating one of the town's biggest festivals.  In addition to the traditional July Fourth events, the town stages a spooky Revolutionary War reenactment that can't be missed.  Every year, the ghost of local war hero Henry Gallantine - played by his eccentric descendant of the same name - appears at the top of the family mansion, kicking off the night's revelries.

But Henry's annual cameo goes awry after the ghost signals SOS instead of his traditional cue.  When Liv rushes to the rescue, she finds Henry missing and a real dead body instead of a fake haunt.  Now she will have to hunt down both a murderer and a missing person quickly before unwanted political fireworks ignite and someone else winds up as local history...


Liv Montgomery moved from Manhattan to Celebration Bay, where she works as the town's event planner.  It sounds like an easy job, but it isn't.  Especially when, while watching the July Fourth battle reenactment with her assistant Ted, both notice that there is an SOS signal coming from the top of the Gallantine mansion, which holds the festivities outside every year.  When they rush to find out why there was an SOS, they find instead a dead body on one side of the parapet, and on the other, a very scared, huddled teenager, Leo, who is holding the murder weapon.

Both Ted and Liv agree that Leo, who is 'a gentle soul,' could not possibly have committed the murder.  But when he insists that "the ghost did it," everyone is puzzled.  While Liv's instincts tell her to stay out of it, she is asked by Leo's friend Roseanne to help him, and soon the other town residents are hinting at it too.  So Liv finds herself smack dab in the middle of the murder investigation, all the while trying to find a place for Leo to stay, and get her friend Chaz (who runs the local newspaper whenever he feels up to doing so) to help clear Leo from suspicion.  While no one really believes Leo is the killer, they do know that someone was murdered, and that the killer could also come after Leo.

This was actually a lot of fun to read.  Although it started out slow - I really didn't get too interested until after the murder was committed - it picked up really fast after that.  There is enough going on with the secondary characters - retired schoolteachers Ida and Edna (Liv's landladies), Chaz, Bill, and even Hildy, Henry's housekeeper, that you become immersed in the town and its residents.  While Liv doesn't exactly dig for clues, they seem to find their way to her, and Sheriff Bill Gunnison just rolls his eyes and threatens to lock her up if she doesn't stop it.  (An idle threat, of course).

With one occurrence rolling into another, and all connecting together somehow, this is a really fun and quick read.  I intend to 'backtrack' to the first in the series so I can get to know everyone better.  I think you'll find it enjoyable.

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