Review: The Body in the Back Garden (Crescent Cove Mystery) by Mark Waddell
In this queer cozy series debut perfect for fans of Ellen Byron and Ellery Adams, Luke Tremblay is about to discover that Crescent Cove has more than its fair share of secrets…and some might be deadlier than others.
Crescent Cove, a small hamlet on Vancouver Island, is the last place out-of-work investigative journalist Luke Tremblay ever wanted to see again. He used to spend summers here, until his family learned that he was gay and rejected him. Now, following his aunt’s sudden death, he’s inherited her entire estate, including her seaside cottage and the antiques shop she ran for forty years in Crescent Cove. Luke plans to sell everything and head back to Toronto as soon as he can…but Crescent Cove isn’t done with him just yet.
When a stranger starts making wild claims about Luke’s aunt, Luke sends him packing. The next morning, though, Luke discovers that the stranger has returned, and now he’s lying dead in the back garden. To make matters worse, the officer leading the investigation is a handsome Mountie with a chip on his shoulder who seems convinced that Luke is the culprit. If he wants to prove his innocence and leave this town once and for all, Luke will have to use all his skills as a journalist to investigate the colorful locals while coming to terms with his own painful past.
There are secrets buried in Crescent Cove, and the more Luke digs, the more he fears they might change the town forever.
Dear Mark Waddell,
This is another impulse buy for me (another very expensive one but I get so few good finds these days that I try them where I can find them :). I really liked your story. Readers be warned before you proceed though, this is a cozy mystery and thus follows some requirements of this sub genre. As the blurb tells you, the events unfold in the small town/village, where our main character Luke arrives after learning about the sudden death of his aunt, whom he used to visit a lot when he was a teenager, but then stopped for many years after coming out to his family.
Luke comes back because he is notified that his aunt left him everything she owned, specifically the cottage as well as antiques store she had. As the blurb once again tells you, Luke’s plans to sell it all go awry very quickly after an aggressive stranger demanded to be allowed into the cottage and such stranger ended up dead. And for a period of time Luke ends up being the chief suspect in that guy’s murder.
I always say this when I review a cozy mystery that I am okay with suspending my disbelief about an amateur detective investigating the murder because this is one of this sub genre’s requirements, however it is nice when the story does not demand *too much* suspension of belief and while this is not the first story I have read where the main character temporarily becomes a detective because he himself was accused of murder and has a very personal stake in clearing himself in the eyes of law, this was believable enough for me. Besides, Luke is an investigative journalist, so at least he knows how to investigate stuff.
Overall I thought the investigation was decent, even if Luke was given one of the major clues in the case by accident. I also really liked how the author avoided what I consider another pitfall of the cozy mystery. An amateur detective usually needs to confront a potential murderer, and more often than not the final scene makes him look quite stupid, because one way or another our main character often would rush to the confrontation in the half baked way without informing the police, or the police won’t answer their phones, or what say you.
In this story the murderer actually forces the confrontation on Luke first before Luke actually figures out who that person is. Luke did not have much choice so to speak and he certainly did not force anything. I really liked that.
You may ask me whether there is a romantic storyline here. There is definitely one, but very restrained and the very beginning of something I really liked and believed in. But as the story is a mystery, at most it is a beginning of the romance. As a romance lover I actually also quite liked how the author handled that. The characters may have met when they were teenagers, and they may have remembered their friendship (for one of them at first even recognizing another was a problem), but they were not pining after each other all these years. It is just when they met again as adults, they found there was something between them worth pursuing.
I enjoyed the writing a lot too and would be delighted to read more adventures if the author chooses to write more. B+