Thursday, September 20, 2018

Deadly News (A Britton Bay Mystery #1)

Author:  Jody Holford
Genre:  Mystery

Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781516108695
Lyrical Underground
184 Pages
$15.00; $3.99 Amazon
October 30, 2018


Former army brat Molly Owens is ready to put down roots, and the picturesque seaside town of Britton Bay on the Oregon Coast seems like the perfect place for it.  Especially when she lands a job as editor of the local paper.  But she's got one colleague who's very bad news...

As an experienced journalist, Molly is eager to bring the struggling Britton Bay Bulletin up to speed.  But when she pushes Vernon, one of her less welcoming reporters, to dig a little deeper into the story of a prominent local family, the man ends up dead.  The fact that he wasn't well-liked makes finding the killer extra complicated.  The lists of suspects range from his ex-wife to his own son to Molly's boss, who has a secret of his own.  But when Molly's attempts to sleuth out the truth result in her receiving frightening threats, the trouble is just beginning...

The one bright spot is Molly's newfound flirtation with Sam Alderich.  The sexy mechanic is used to taking things apart and piecing them back together, and between the two of them they just might be able to solve this deadly puzzle - if Molly can survive peaceful small-town life long enough...


Molly Owens has moved to Britton Bay, Oregon to start a new life after breaking up with her live-in boyfriend.  She's accepted a job as the editor of the small Britton Bay Bulletin, the local newspaper.  When she arrives for her meet-and-greet, the owner, Alan, introduces her to the staff:  Elizabeth, Vernon, and Clay; along with an unpaid intern, Hannah, a teenager who is also Alan's niece.  Vernon lets it be known immediately that he doesn't like her and that he has no intention of listening to her.  While Molly tries to stay optimistic, she realizes that it will take work for Vernon to accept her.

When she leaves for lunch she finds her jeep sounds wrong, and luckily there's a nearby garage.  Looking at her vehicle she sees the air has been let out of all of her tires.  Meeting the mechanic, Sam Alderich, she gets a little bump in her heartbeat but reminds herself that she's there to work, not to start a new relationship.  She knows that it was probably Vernon who did it, but without proof she needs to let it go.

When she decides to mix things up at the paper, hoping to improve their readership she assigns a story to Vernon about the local founding family.  After a rough start, he agrees.  But when he doesn't deliver the story, she calls him and he tells her he's taking the day off and will see her the next.  When he doesn't show up for work, she goes over to his home only to find the man dead. 

Blindsided and overwhelmed she calls the police, briefly questioned, and released.  But Molly can't get the idea out of her head that she had something to do with Vernon's murder.  Maybe if she hadn't pushed him to go out and get the story...but what could talking to an elderly woman have to do with murder? 

Sorting out these thoughts isn't going to be easy, especially since she's being pursued by Sam, and no matter how much he tries to allay her fears, she's sure that his death has something to do with the story she sent him to find.  But what?  And it becomes even more apparent when she discovers flowers trampled at her home and the vandalism escalates.  But how far will a killer go to protect any secrets they might have?

While this author has written other books, it is her first foray into the world of cozy mysteries, and as such a very worthwhile effort indeed.  I found the mystery to be well-written, the story line intriguing, the characters well-drawn and the town descriptions delightful.

Molly isn't your usual sleuth, digging into places she shouldn't be and asking overly-invasive questions that make one uncomfortable reading about.  Instead she's intelligent, empathetic, has a decent sense of humor, is able to banter flirtatiously with Sam without seeming awkward, and has a desire to actually fit in and make friends, which has her randomly apologizing to people for various things.  I do believe the fact that this author has heretofore written romances helps in the fact that the budding romance between Molly and Sam is both convincing and enjoyable to read.

Following the many red herrings strewn into the story is quite fun, never knowing where they'll lead or to whom.  Just when you feel you might be on the right track, something else comes around the bend that sends you in another direction.  When Molly finally puts it all together and figures out the identity of the killer, it's worth noting that she's not stupid about it, and I appreciate that fact.  The reason for the murder is believable, and I found that everything came together nicely at the end.  I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.


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