Category Archives: Adams, Ellery

Ellery Adams. Poisoned Prose. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2013.

Poisoned ProseOlivia Limoges is stuck. Lately, progress on her novel has stalled and Olivia feels uninspired in her writing. At the latest meeting of the Bayside Book Writers, Olivia’s friends and closest critics complain that her protagonist, Kamila is limp and dull. The exact opposite of what you’d expect from an Egyptian courtesan wooing a pharaoh. Fellow member Laurel Hobbs suggests that the band of writers spend the upcoming Saturday together at the annual Oyster Bay Cardboard Regatta, grab some dinner, and then catch the main highlight of the day: performances by the Southern Storytellers Network at the town’s library. Famed storyteller Violetta Devereux has top-billing at the event. Violetta’s storytelling has reportedly inspired artists of all varieties, and the Bayside Book Writers are excited to experience her stories firsthand.

But Olivia doesn’t mention to her friends that she helped sponsor the event. As a wealthy restaurateur, Olivia juggles several irons in the fire around Oyster Bay. A few weeks earlier, Flynn McNulty, Olivia’s former boyfriend and proprietor of Through the Wardrobe, Oyster Bay’s independent bookshop, approached Olivia about the storytellers’ retreat. Flynn and the local paper, the Gazette, partnered to host the event. But when their grant funding fell through at the last second, Flynn appealed to Olivia for a little bit of last minute help. Olivia hesitated at first, but after she encountered a powerful instance of storytelling in a dive bar, she signed on as a sponsor. Just like Laurel predicts, the storytelling event turns out to be a quite memorable night.

Violetta Devereux was born to a poor Appalachian farmer. But her gift of captivating storytelling and her striking appearance helped her escape her roots and make a name for herself as a master storyteller. The night of the storytelling event, Violetta is characteristically hypnotic. She opens with the cryptic story of her own impending death. After the performance, Olivia goads Violetta’s manager, Lowell, for a private interview with Violetta to learn the secrets behind her storytelling skills. Apparently Violetta does not give interviews and she only performs in partial darkness. But, unexpectedly, Violetta consents to Olivia’s request. During their conversation, Violetta mentions a hidden treasure that will die with her. And, as it turns out, Violetta’s meeting with Olivia is her last.

Not long after their conversation, Lowell finds Violetta strangled in the library conference room. Olivia and her current beau, Oyster Bay Police Chief Sawyer Rawlings, begin investigating Violetta’s death immediately. Their primary suspect is Lowell because of his questionable past. But their initial suspicious subside when Lowell appears more spooked than anyone else. He is convinced that a ghost is behind Violetta’s murder, and he fears he might be next. As Olivia and Rawlings examine the case, they find a trickle of odd clues leading them to a surprising conclusion with unexpected interconnections. The secret to Violetta’s death, they learn, resides in her stories and her personal history.

Stories are at the heart of novelist Ellery Adams’ fifth volume in the Books by the Bay mystery series. Olivia recognizes the potential for stories to unite people. Adams also takes the time to develop the lives of the central characters further beyond the one-off murder-mystery plot. Relationships change over the course of Poisoned Prose, some for the better and some for the worse. Characters succeed – Bayside Book Writers member Millay finds literary representation – and other characters struggle – like Olivia who falters in developing her novel. Adams presents a number of intertwined stories, sure to interest many readers. But just as a local fisherman, Captain Fergusson, warns Olivia, “Sure, stories can be like a fire on a cold night. But they can burn too. There ain’t nothin’ can cut deeper or sting with more poison than words can…Words have power, and all things of power are dangerous.” Stories and words have the dangerous power of manipulation over collective memory and history.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Adams, Ellery, Coast, Mystery, Novels in Series

Ellery Adams. Books by the Bay Mysteries.

When forty-something Olivia Limoges was looking to change her life she settled on the idea of moving back to her hometown of Oyster Bay, North Carolina.  The locals don’t exactly welcome her with open arms–she’s wealthy, grouchy, bossy, and has pretentious aspirations to be a writer.  It’s a rocky start for Olivia, but as the Books by the Bay series unfolds, Olivia makes a place for herself in Oyster Bay.  She joins a writing group and the members of the group become friends; she re-connects with her half-brother, joining him in the restaurant business; and  she may even have found a new love interest in the person of Sawyer Rawlings.

Olivia comes to know Rawlings because he is the town’s chief of police, and  Oyster Bay has an unusual number of murders, many of which touch Olivia in some way.  The victims include a gossip columnist looking into a wealthy local family, an author of historic novels, and a local “witch” who knows a secret about Olivia’s mother.  In each of these cozy mysteries, the murders reveal something about Olivia’s past or that of this seemingly-quiet little town.  Readers come to know Olivia and her backstory even as they enjoy her sleuthing–in which she is often aided by her poodle, Captain Haviland.

 

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Ellery Adams. Written in Stone. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2012.

Written in StoneWhen Oyster Bay’s gossipy diner proprietor Dixie relays a message to Olivia Limoges from the reclusive witch of Oyster Bay, Olivia laughs it off as a bunch of hocus-pocus and horoscopes. The witch, Munin Cooper, wants Olivia to pay her a visit. Olivia is a successful restaurateur and aspiring author. She is a woman who takes care of herself and her constant companion, Captain Haviland, a standard poodle. However, when Olivia discovers that Munin Cooper inexplicably knows a private detail about her deceased mother she decides to brave the journey across the swamp to hear out the witch’s message.

According to local lore, the witch requires her visitors to relinquish their most precious belongings in exchange for her help. Most of Munin’s visitors are just desperate enough to part with their possessions. Tucked away in her shack, Munin embeds those trinkets and mementos into memory jugs. A memory jug serves as “a scrapbook made with found objects” that represent an individual’s life. Munin is an eerie figure. A member of the Lumbee Indian tribe, she lives in primitive but self-sufficient isolation and decorates herself with jewelry fashioned from teeth and small animal bones. She warns Olivia that death surrounds her and that she should protect herself and her friends before any terrible events occur. To help her fend off death, Munin gives Olivia her final memory jug. Despite her otherworldly wisdom, Munin does not realize that death will seek her out first. A park ranger finds her drowned in a stream shortly after Olivia’s visit.

After she learns of Munin’s passing, Olivia refuses to believe that the witch died from natural causes, so she urges Police Chief Rawlings to examine the case further. Because Munin lived in a different county, Rawlings cannot influence the ruling of accidental death. But Olivia knows it was murder and she has all the evidence she needs to solve the crime thanks to the memory jug. In order to identify the killer, she must first understand the relationships among the keepsakes in the jug. With the Coastal Carolina Food Festival gearing up, Olivia is overwhelmed with her restaurant, The Boot Top Bistro. Yet with her life and the lives of her friends in question, she juggles supervising her business and sleuthing a murder. As the web of connections grows clear and clearer, Olivia is shocked by what she unearths.

Novelist Ellery Adams delivers another absorbing mystery for her “Books by the Bay” series. Adams tantalizes her audience with snippets of Olivia’s mysterious back story. She supplies an enigmatic mix of details that will leave readers curious for the full explanation. Moreover, her lush descriptions of food are enough to make your mouth water and your stomach growl. This book should probably be read on a full stomach. For readers interested in more, consult three of the Read North Carolina Novels previous blog posts on Adams’ work: A Killer Plot, A Deadly Cliché, and The Last Word.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Adams, Ellery, Coast, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Ellery Adams. The Last Word. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2011.

Oyster Bay, North Carolina, has changed Olivia Limoges. When she arrived a few years ago, people referred to her as “the grouchiest woman on the entire North Carolina coast.” Now she’s a fixture of this tight-knit community who is about to open a new restaurant with her long-lost half-brother, Hudson. She also leads the Bayside Book Writers group and is developing an meaningful relationship with the Chief of Police, Sawyer Rawlings. Although it’s hectic, the refined Olivia is content with the life that she has created, especially with the presence of her attentive poodle, Captain Haviland.

In the midst of planning menus, reworking drafts about Ramses the Great and his courtesan, Kamila, and helping Hudson and his wife, Kim, prepare for a new child, the unthinkable strikes Oyster Bay. Nick Plumley, a bestselling author who has just moved to the seaside town is found (by none other than Olivia) murdered. His book, The Barbed Wire Flower, described a horrifying scene at the nearby New Bern POW Camp in which two German prisoners escape after killing one of the guards; Plumley had hoped to do research along the coast for a sequel. As Olivia and the Bayside Book Writers help Chief Rawlings search for the reasons why someone would want the well-known writer dead, they discover a more sinister side to Plumley and his associates. Plumley’s murder also exposes long-buried secrets about one of their own that stun Olivia and Oyster Bay.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog, or start with the first two “Books by the Bay” mysteries, A Killer Plot and A Deadly Cliché.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Adams, Ellery, Coast, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Ellery Adams. A Deadly Cliché. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2011.

Labor Day is approaching, and Oyster Bay, North Carolina, is bustling in preparation for a busy extended weekend. A popular tourist destination, the quaint village needs a spree of burglaries about as much as it needs a hurricane. Unfortunately, both are making their presence known. When the burglaries turn deadly, Olivia Limoges springs into action. A wealthy woman who owns about half of the town and genuinely cares for its citizens, she does not want Oyster Bay to get the reputation of being unsafe (even if it does weather the occasional storm). As a friend, fellow member of the Bayside Book Writers, and potential love interest of Sawyer Rawlings, Oyster Bay’s chief of police, Olivia has an inside source to the details of murders and robberies. Enlisting the help of her fellow writers and beloved poodle, Captain Haviland, Olivia realizes that the perpetrators leave clues in the form of clichés. Her quick wit will come in handy when she comes face-to-face with the criminals.

In the midst of exposing the Cliché Killers, Olivia also makes a personal discovery. For the past thirty years, she has accepted the fact that her father was lost at sea. When Olivia receives a letter telling her that her father is alive, but ill, and demanding $1,000, she writes it off as a blackmail ploy. However, when her curiosity gets the best of her, Olivia uncovers a stunning truth.

A Deadly Cliché is the second title in the “Books by the Bay Mystery” series.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog, or start with the first “Books by the Bay Mystery,” A Killer Plot.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Adams, Ellery, Coast, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Ellery Adams. A Killer Plot. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2010.

Staying under the radar in a small town is a difficult task, especially for Olivia Limoges, a wealthy forty year-old. She is back in Oyster Bay, and people are already talking about “the grouchiest woman on the entire North Carolina coast.” Everyone has an opinion about how the aspiring writer should spend her life — and her money. When Olivia is encouraged by her best friend, Dixie, to join the local writers’ group to help her overcome her writer’s block, Olivia finds an unlikely group of friends. Unfortunately, their arrangement is weakened by the murder of Camden Ford, a gossip columnist from California. Camden had been in Oyster Bay doing a story on the Talbot family, rich land developers with shady practices. A haiku was left at the crime scene, so Olivia’s writers’ group begins investigating its meaning in an effort to solve their friend’s murder. Later two men who were believed to be connected to Camden’s untimely death are found murdered and in each case the killer left a haiku. The three haikus are related to the seasons, which leads Olivia to believe that the police are running out of time to prevent more deaths. Olivia helps to solve the murders and, as a result, improves the community that she has grown to love.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Adams, Ellery, Coast, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places