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AUNT DIMITY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA
By Nancy Atherton
Viking, 2006 Hardcover ($22.95)
Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel
When Lori Shepherd left the U.S. seven years ago to settle into the cozy Cotswold cottage left to her by her mother's friend Dimity, she expected to live a quiet, bucolic life. Things haven't worked out as she expected. She and her lawyer husband Bill love the beauty of their tiny kingdom, and the villagers of Finch have accepted them with open arms. Their five-year-old twin boys are thriving, and all's well with the world. Still, Lori seems to have a nose for trouble and an aptitude for crime solving, and she has gotten involved in some interesting situations while trying to help others through difficult, sometimes dangerous events. Now, though, the danger has come too close for comfort. Bill, who spends most of his time writing wills for wealthy clients, has been getting death threats from someone calling himself Abbaddon - the king of the bottomless pit in the book of Revelation. The e-mailer is seeking revenge for some unnamed wrong he believes Bill has done him, becoming more irrational with each new message. He has just upped the ante, threatening to destroy everything Bill holds dear, and has sent photos to prove how close he has already been to their home. No longer able to write the man off as a harmless nut, Bill calls in Scotland Yard and sends Lori and the boys off to the safety of a remote Scottish island. An essential part of the luggage, of course, is the blue journal through which the late Aunt Dimity communicates with Lori, and Reginald the pink bunny.
Sir Percy Pelham, an old friend of Bill's father, is a fabulously wealthy oilman and entrepreneur, eccentric and adventurous. He recently retired to Erinskel Island, buying the castle he renamed Dundrillin and the title that goes with it. Having had experience with danger in the high-stakes arena he's come from, renovations on the property include a state of the art security system, and he has brought in two of his most trusted bodyguards to watch over Lori and the boys. No harm can possibly come to them, right? Wrong, of course.
The village of Stoneywell is charming and prosperous. Sir Percy tells Lori the villagers are supported by a co-op woolen factory, but she begins to wonder how such a small industry could provide such great profits. And why do the inhabitants seem so set on keeping out the tourist trade? Does the sorrowful ghost of Brother Cielan really walk the nearby islet named for him, mourning his brothers who were slaughtered by the Vikings in the 9th century, or is there some more ominous source for the lights some see at night? While the boys and their caretaker Andrew - don't call him a "man-nanny"! are having the time of their lives playing lords of the castle, Lori is uncovering some disturbing secrets about the locals.
This is my favorite so far in the series. I enjoyed the change of scenery, the isolated island with all its secrets, the fabulous castle that is such a perfect playground for the twins, and the well-crafted story.
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