by Cynthia Chow
& Ellery Adams
This week we have a review of Poisoned Prose, the new Book By The Bay mystery by Ellery Adams, along with a guest post from Ellery about where she got the idea for some very interesting characters in her new book. There are also details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of Poisoned Prose.
Poisoned Prose: A Book By the Bay Mystery By Ellery Adams
Review by Cynthia Chow
“These people tell lies for a living. They jump from one character’s skin to another like a troupe of shape-shifters.”
When restaurant owner, Olivia Limoges, speaks these words to her boyfriend and Oyster Bay Police Chief Sawyer Rawlings, she’s not referring to con-artists or criminals. Olivia is actually speaking of a group of visiting professional storytellers who have mastered the skill of manipulation and have the ability to create worlds within their listeners’ minds. In town for their annual retreat, some of the nation’s best storytellers perform their skills at the public library following Oyster Bay’s popular Cardboard Regatta boat race. In the program, sponsored by the newspaper and the Through the Wardrobe bookstore, one of the most renown storytellers, Violetta Devereaux, demonstrates her skills with stories that are brilliantly impactful and unfortunately, ominous.
When Olivia and her good friend, budding reporter Laurel Hobbs, discover Violetta’s body the women discover that Violetta’s beauty and powers of manipulation attracted as much antipathy as affection amongst her fellow storytellers. While Rawlings dispenses his usual warnings against investigating (all the while knowing the futility of doing so) Olivia and her fellow Bayside Book Writers writing group begin looking into the life of a woman whose many secrets were hidden amidst her own stories, one of which hinted at a valuable treasure that could have prevented a life-altering tragedy. Just as intriguing is how a genetic disease caused Violetta to inherit a blue-toned skin color that she hid from the world, but only enhanced her elfish attractiveness to the many men who fell for her, only to be cast aside by her defensive barriers and declarations to never allow herself ever again to be vulnerable to a loss.
In a town with a population of five-hundred during the off-tourist season, Oyster Bay is inclusive and protective of its history, most of which has been passed down through family stories for generations. As a result, the professional storytellers have an especially significant impact on the residents, which makes their abilities all the more impressive and encourages Olivia to invest in who eliminated the brilliant talent of Violetta Devereaux. As struggling writers striving to create worlds and characters, Olivia and her friends are fascinated with the power wielded by Violetta and how she so creatively wielded her gifts to impress an audience.
By this fifth in the Books by the Bay Mystery, Olivia has begun to let down her guard and lower her protective isolation enough to allow her fellow neighbors into her life and become friends. Far more challenging is Olivia’s relationship with Sawyer Rawlings, who although he has a drawer in her home, any further hints for commitment have her hyperventilating and definitely into fight-or-flight mode. This is a sentiment shared by Olivia’s friend Millay, a bartender and free-spirit, whose writing career blossoms just as her relationship with fellow writer Harris seems to be sadly declining.
Olivia will face many new challenges as she begins to suspect someone close to her as being involved in the murder, and the resolution will lead her to make decisions defined by how precious and short life can be. Readers will be invested in all of these characters and appreciate just how impactful and skillful the dying art of storytelling is to the world.
Ellery Adams, who also writes under the name Jennifer and J.B. Stanley, continues to craft an excellent series with fun dialogue, likable characters and themes that will resonate with readers long after the book is closed.
Use this link to purchase this book & a portion goes to help KRL:
Where the Muses Hide
By Ellery Adams
Whenever I’m fielding Q&A sessions at the end of a reading or panel, there’s one question that always comes up, time and time again. The question is: “How do you come up with your ideas?” People want to know the source of our inspiration, and though I think the experience various from author to author, I believe the truth that our muses tend to hide in plain sight.
For me, the inspiration behind every book is different. I might read an article about Nazi prisoners of war in the state of North Carolina and become so intrigued that my research turns into a book about revenge, love and love (The Last Word: A Books By the Bay Mystery). Or I might try a recipe for bourbon pecan pie and be so moved by the sweet, complex flavors that I decide the pastry chef who dreamed up the original recipe must be an enchantress. That thought led to an entire series featuring a magical pie shop proprietor. (Pies and Prejudice: A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery).
For my latest book, Poisoned Prose, the fifth in the Books By the Bay series, I stumbled on an image after accidentally clicking a link to an ABC news story. The article was about the Fugate Family of Kentucky. The most captivating photograph of people with blue skin accompanied the piece. (Here’s the link in case you’d like to see it for yourself).
At first, I thought the photo was a fake. If we were to believe all the images posted online, we’d probably go mad, so I started researching the blood disorder that causes the blue-skin condition. It’s called Methemoglobinemia (try saying that three times as quickly as you can).
From there, I began to wonder what it would be like to grow up with such a unique condition—especially if one was to leave the isolate mountain community where one was raised. I took this idea and ran with it, adding in a mystery about lost treasure, and highlighting the rich traditional of storytelling that still exists today among the people of Appalachia. And before I knew it, I’d written a novel. Poisoned Prose.
Authors aren’t supposed to have favorites when it comes to their own books, but this one’s a favorite of mine. I loved every moment of research, writing, and polishing this story and hope that I can find a similarly wonderful muse for the next book in the series!
To enter to win a copy of Poisoned Prose, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Prose,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 19, 2013. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.