"All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality -- the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape."
--Author Christopher Benson



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Gray Whale Inn Mysteries by Karen MacInerney Takes Us Traveling Through Tuesday

This series of cozy mysteries are set on Cranberry Island off the coast of Maine. It boasts of only having 100 year round residents but is quite the tourist attraction.  It can only be reached by boat and most residents and tourists either walk or ride bikes, there are only a few vehicles on the entire island.

The main character is Natalie Barnes, who has moved from Texas to start over after a bad break up.  She has purchased the beautiful Gray Whale Inn and become an innkeeper of a Bed & Breakfast.

In the first book, Murder on the Rocks, Natalie is happily running her B&B even with unnerving guests, one of which is a land developer who wants to build a resort right next to, or on top of Natalie's B&B.  The land next door is supposed to be protected because of the rare terns that make their home there.  There is a clear division between the residents who want or don't want the resort to be built, but the island board voted to give permission for the resort to be built.

Natalie is not happy about the vote and the next day is walking along the land where the resort is to be built she looses her footing, slides down a dune and when she catches herself she looks down to find someone else had fallen much further than she, the land developer is lying below her and is clearly dead.  The mainland detective feels he has the crime solved when he decides Natalie is the killer.  She has to find the real killer or will find herself behind bars.

The second book, Dead and Berried, Natalie has all sorts of problems, developers are back and they want to wipe out the cranberry bog to build luxury condos, he ex-fiancee shows up for a visit to try and win her back, which doesn't sit well with her boyfriend, the island deputy, she is on the outs with her best friend on the island, plus there are rumors her inn is haunted and then of course there are the bodies that keep turning up, and this time Natalie's best friend is the number one suspect. Again, the mainland detective thinks he has all the answers.

The third book, Murder most Maine, was by favorite of the three, The B&B is hosting a weight loss retreat, and every woman on the island is swooning the male trainer. The female trainer is someone who used to summer on the island and is quite cozy with Natalie's boyfriend and a few other island men.  When the male trainer ends up dead these men are the lead suspects.  So of course, Natalie is on the case.

While all of this is going on the island finds a skeleton hidden in a secret closet of the old lighthouse they are refurbishing.  The skeleton appears to be about 150 years old, and Natalie just can help but investigate and she finds a log book hidden in the lighthouse and with the help of few friends it is determined the lighthouse has quite a history and was probably the northern most post for the Underground Railroad helping slaves escape to Canada.  This really adds to the substance of this book.

I really enjoyed all three books, the characters and plots were well written and well thought out.  The only real complaint I have is that poor Natalie keeps getting bonked in the head and sooner or later that is going to lead to some "heady" complications.  These are wonderful cozies and the bonus recipes at the end of the books are very tempting.   I would love to stay at Natalie's Bed & Breakfast, but without the murders.  Maybe in the next book they should host a "who-dun-it" party and throw in some fake murders instead of all the real ones.

To find out more about this author and her other books, please check out her website http://www.karenmacinerney.com/


Anonymous said...

Lori, I'm glad you liked these. Karen McInerney lives here in the Austin area and so her character Natalie comes from Austin as well. There are few little tidbits in the books about us, but the Maine setting is wonderful. I would love to stay at Natalie's B&B. Nice reviews!

Wendy said...

Wow! There goes my wl again! I love finding new-to-me new cozy authors and these sound really good!

Mari said...

Lori, thanks for the introduction to a new series!