There’s another mystery brewing in the isolated village of The Shores as the community gears up to celebrate its 200th anniversary. Newcomer Vera Gloom has rolled into town—and the newly renovated Sullivan estate—with her three ex-husbands. Amateur sleuth Hy McAllister is suspicious and sets out to uncover just what’s going on behind closed doors—if she can get through them. She’ll need to prove her doubts before it’s too late. Add a washed-up skull on the beach that leads to a heritage investigation and we have ourselves a murder mystery. Mountie Jane Jamieson has her work cut out for her, thanks to McAllister, who never leaves well enough alone—perhaps for good reason.
Author Hilary MacLeod loves her puns, as evident from the titles of the previous books in her series, including the latest Bodies and Sole. At first this comes across a little cheesy but by the end it’s clear why the title makes sense and is actually quite fitting.
It is easy to picture the village as MacLeod describes it, especially if you’ve spent any time in a rural area of Prince Edward Island. There are signs of modernity creeping in, impossibly slow internet connections, ride-on lawn mowers, and a few come-from-aways who manage to keep up with the times. Hy’s updates on The Shores 200th Anniversary website along with her Facebook status updates, interspersed throughout, help link the old-fashioned village life with modern day.
MacLeod’s writing is witty. The comments that are left on Hy’s Facebook status updates are real groaners. This is part of what makes the story a fun and light read. There’s a surprising twist and the tale briefly takes a turn to a dark, sinister side and things start to get twisted. This grounds the book as more serious, a nice contrast to all the silliness and even a bit of sass.
You can’t help but fall for the colourful cast of characters, of which there are many. Some have a starring role, some are only on the periphery but they likely sweep in and out of the entire series.
The story stands alone but the reader would benefit from familiarity gained from MacLeod’s first four stories, as well as insight to past mysteries that are mentioned. For that, the solution is easy. Start with Revenge of the Lobster Lover and work your way up to Bodies and Sole and likely beyond, as the last page leaves readers with the anticipation there is more to come.
Bodies and Sole
by Hilary MacLeod
$22.95, paperback, 306 pp.
Acorn Press, August 2014