Dear Ms Douglas,
When I picked up a copy of “Wedding Bell Blues,” I didn’t realize that it is the fourth book in your Maggie Skerritt mystery series. I thought briefly about trying to track down the other three books since I prefer to read a series in order but realized that I probably wouldn’t be able to in the near future. I also wanted to see how well it stood alone. The answer is that it does fine on its own but now that I know the answers to some of the past mysteries that Maggie solved in earlier books, it makes me a little reluctant to bother reading them.
Maggie Skerritt’s new PI business pays her bills and also allows her to keep doing what she not only loves but what is in her blood: namely, solving mysteries. After 23 years as a police officer, it’s something she craves. It’s her luck to be able to feed her need while working with the man she loves, fellow former officer Bill Malcolm. If Maggie could only get her society mother and sister to leave her alone about their upcoming wedding instead of planning a “wedding of the year” bash, she’d be a lot happier.
Maggie’s two newest cases arrive the same day. The first is to find a seeming “runaway bride” and the second is to provide security at the wedding reception of Tampa, FL’s version of the Hatfields and McCoys. The bride is quickly found but the situation turns murky when a murder is committed. As Maggie and Bill try to track down the culprit, Maggie’s mother pulls out all the stops to twist Maggie around her finger and get her way about the style of wedding they’ll have. And don’t forget the wedding reception showdown Maggie has to head off even as she fights her own prewedding jitters.
The mystery here is capable. There are enough clues to figure out whodunnit and no deus ex machina endings, but there are precious few red herrings to make things more interesting. It’s pretty obvious who’s involved in the murder and just a matter of time before Maggie and Bill prove guilt. The ending to the wedding reception plot will be familiar to many who enjoyed an email story circulating around the internet a year ago.
I did enjoy Maggie’s clever way of getting out of the monster wedding her mother wants but what I enjoyed most about the book was Maggie’s self examination and her relationship with Bill who is almost too good to be true. I can believe her reluctance to get married after almost 50 years of single status and her reasons for not marrying sooner are reasonably explained in her background story. I also like how you turn the 5th Dimension song around and make Maggie the reluctant party to marriage.
I think this series is geared more towards romance readers than mystery ones. Though I enjoyed it as a police/PI procedural, it’s not the strongest mystery and I recommend it more for its heroine and her personal life. Since the Next line is down to two books a month, I’m glad that this one ended with some feeling of closure about Maggie and Bill’s relationship. B- for this one.