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  • Full Of Drama & Endearing Characters

    I love embarking on a new series from the very start, and this one certainly intrigued me enough to do just that. Alexis Winston (Ali to those who know her) has lost her job. She's from a family of actors and theatre people and with some time on her hands, she returns to Sierra Pines to visit her Great-Aunt Julia who owns a B & B, a quaint Victoria structure with three storeys and numerous bedrooms. Sierra Pines is a town nestled in the California Sierra Nevada mountains and on her arrival, Ali is met by Julia's dearest friend, Gladys Bellwether who delivers some shocking news... Great-Aunt Julia is dead. Gladys firmly believes that Julia's death is suspicious and that someone else is involved, that someone being Thaddeus Beale and she manages to convince Ali to investigate further. Kathryn Long has created and fleshed out some marvellous characters in this compelling cozy. Twenty-eight-year-old Ali has lost her job twice now - once, as a screenwriter, and again, a few years later, when she was an assistant researcher for a TV show that needed a ratings boost and decided to reduce the number of researchers they had. Her Great-Aunt Julia was a volunteer on the set of a movie being filmed near the B & B. Ali knows a thing or two about prop design as she dual majored in the subject at university and demonstrates her helpfulness when she offers to volunteer in place of Julia on the set of the movie. I loved Ali's determination to get to the bottom of what happened to her great aunt, and her self-doubt she displayed about whether or not she has was it takes to run the B & B made her realistic and endearing. Other memorable characters were Gladys, Ollie, Quint and Blackbeard the parrot. The spirited Gladys added a great deal to this intriguing tale and I loved her relationship with her food-loving brother Ollie. Quint Sterling, the town's sheriff, had a habit of popping up all over the place but came across as an amenable, gentlemanly guy and Ali certainly, seemed keen on him, in spite of his repeated warnings to stay out of his investigation and to let the police do their stuff and follow procedures. Their repartee had me chuckling away and I liked Great-Aunt Julia's apple-eating parrot, Blackbeard. The mystery itself was fairly complex in the beginning as a horde of characters were introduced made up of B & B guests, cast members, residents of Sierra Pines and others, resulting in a wide choice of suspects and motives. Initially, it was difficult to keep everyone straight but as the story develops, the characters become more defined. Most had their secrets, big or small and I was kept guessing until close to the end. All told, Boarding with Murder is a well-plotted, drama-filled, compulsive start to the Sierra Pines B & B Mystery series and I'm eagerly awaiting my return to Ali's B & B and catching up with the folk in Sierra Pines. Thanks to Great Escapes Book Tours, Kathryn Long and Camel Press for a complimentary copy of Boarding with Murder at my request. This review is my unbiased opinion.

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