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THE LAST WORD


By Ellery Adams

Berkley Prime Crime, 2011 ($7.99)

ISBN-13: 978-0-425-24500-2
Kindle eBook: $7.99

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Olivia Limoges is happy to assist Harris Williams, a fellow member of the Bayside Book Writers, in finding his dream home, a small cottage dating to the 1930's. It needs a lot of TLC, but he prefers it to all the cookie cutter new homes he's seen. Before he can close on it, Olivia finds out there is another buyer who wants the property and is willing to pay more than the going price. To her surprise, the would-be buyer is a best-selling novelist, Nick Plumley, who says he wants to put down roots in Oyster Bay, North Carolina, near where his prize-winning novel was set. Harris manages to close on the property, thanks to a little help from Olivia, but Plumley continues to show a marked interest in the house, showing up and poking around while Harris and his contractor, Clyde Butler, are working on it.

Clyde is also working on Olivia's newest business venture, the Bayside Crab House. Her half-brother Hudson is the chef, assisted by his pregnant wife. Olivia found Hudson at the same time she discovered their supposedly long-dead father had been alive, raising a new family, long after she and her mother were told he'd been lost at sea. She's trying to bond with Hudson, his wife and six-year-old daughter, but her father's betrayal makes it difficult.

Harris finds a painting concealed in a hidden space in the staircase, and Olivia takes it to an expert who identifies it as the work of a German POW who lived in a camp near Oyster Bay during World War II. Is it a coincidence that the camp was the setting for Plumley's novel? Olivia thinks not. The painter allegedly killed a camp guard and escaped with another prisoner, never to be heard from again. The paintings he left behind have become extremely valuable: maybe even valuable enough to kill for.

When a prominent resident is murdered, one of Olivia's closest friends is the primary suspect. No stranger to helping the police with their inquiries, Olivia starts investigating who else might have had a motive for murder. Her search uncovers secrets from the past, including a sweet but doomed love affair between a local girl and a German POW. When she realizes who the killer is, she almost wishes she hadn't, but something good comes out of it in the end.

This is the third in Adams' Books by the Bay series, and it is as enjoyable as the previous two, A KILLER PLOT and A DEADLY CLICHE. Olivia and her friends are believable and likable, if sometimes eccentric. She came back to her hometown a stranger, but is finding that you can come home again. While I do worry about the super-rich diet her standard poodle and constant companion Captain Haviland is treated to, the bond between him and Olivia is touching. As her new life in Oyster Bay progresses, she no longer has to rely solely on him for companionship and affection, but the Captain is fine with that. More attention and love for him, and more happiness for his beloved mistress. I look forward to the next book in the series.

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