Daheim's enjoyable 23rd B&B mystery (after 2006's Saks and Violins) takes Judith McMonigle Flynn, her cousin Serena "Renie" Jones and their husbands to a remote town in Scotland. The idea is to get away from the stresses of running an inn, and from Judith's pesky habit of stumbling over corpses and solving murders, but when a new Scottish acquaintance mysteriously dies, Judith can't help poking around. Why would anyone kill Harry Gibbs? Perhaps his wife, now twice widowed, had developed a romantic relationship with someone else, or perhaps a complex business deal lies behind Harry's demise. The tight-knit locals aren't always willing to open up to Judith, and soon more people die. The many eccentric Scottish characters aren't especially well developed, but the local color-fine wool, romantic castles, freely flowing whiskey and tea-is charming. This cozy makes a good vacation read, whether or not your destination is Scotland. (Aug.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Scots on the Rocks (Bed-and-Breakfast Series #23)by Mary Daheim
When Judith and her cousin Renie go on vacation in a remote and possibly haunted Scottish castle owned by a rich whiskey distillery baron strange things start occurring. They meet Harry Gibbs, a dissolute young man who is estranged from his wife and is found smothered to death shortly after Judith and Renie arrive. His widow, Moira, is suspect No. 1, of course, but
When Judith and her cousin Renie go on vacation in a remote and possibly haunted Scottish castle owned by a rich whiskey distillery baron strange things start occurring. They meet Harry Gibbs, a dissolute young man who is estranged from his wife and is found smothered to death shortly after Judith and Renie arrive. His widow, Moira, is suspect No. 1, of course, but there are plenty to go around since Harry was a real jerk and wanted to run the petrol company Moira inherited from dear old dad. Suspects include Moira's bastard half-brother, Blackwell Petroleum's sleazy CEO, the wily comptroller, an even wilier corporate attorney, the whisky baron, Moira's former mother-in-law who mixes delicious jams along with her not-so-delicious poisons, Moira's apparent lover, and, last but not least, Chuckie, the dwarfish epileptic who runs around castle. There's a ghost, some goofy villagers, and enough suspects to overwhelm any police force, but no challenge is too daunting for the cousins.
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Scots on the Rocks LP
Judith McMonigle Flynn put a fifty-dollar bill on the table, glared at her husband, Joe, and said, "I'll take that bet."
"Sucker," said Joe, the gold flecks dancing in his green eyes. "Since when has your mother ever called me by name? It'll be 'Knucklehead' or 'Lunkhead' or 'Dumbbell' before she ever refers to me as Joe. We've been married almost fourteen years. If you can remember when she ever used my real name, I'll give you fifty bucks right now."
"I can't. But," Judith went on, crossing her arms and looking mulish, "Mother's mellowing. Last night she said your barbecued spareribs were delicious."
Joe chuckled. "They came from Nicky Napoli's rib joint."
"Mother didn't realize that," Judith countered.
Joe pocketed his fifty-dollar bill. "Why bet against each other with our own money? Change the stakes. Who gets to choose our next vacation?"
Judith was still glaring at Joe. "Vacation? What's a vacation?"
Joe pulled out a kitchen chair. "Sit. Look," he said earnestly as Judith reluctantly eased herself into the chair, "I realize you've been under a lot of pressure lately. Except for St. Valentine's Day, February's always a slow month at the B&B. March won't be much better, with Easter not until mid-April. Why not take some time off to go somewhere wonderful?"
Judith grimaced. "My state B&B board review is next week."
Joe had sat down at the kitchen table opposite his wife. "It's Tuesday, right? We'll have the rest of the month for a getaway."
Judith looked glum. "If I feel like it. For all I know, they'll yank my innkeeper'slicense."
"Don't think negative," Joe admonished. "It's not your fault you've found a few dead bodies in your career. It's happened to me, too."
"You were a cop," Judith pointed out.
"True." Joe looked down at the green-and-white-striped tablecloth. He seemed to be having trouble finding the right words.
"I've never gone out of my way searching for victims," Judith asserted. "They usually come to me. Furthermore," she continued, gathering steam, "not that many people have been killed on the premises in the sixteen years since I turned the family home into Hillside Manor. I'd guess that any inn, motel, or hotel would have a similar fatality ratio."
"You've had your share of bad luck." Joe didn't sound convinced.
"I could use some good luck." Judith reached across the table. "I'll take that bet. I want to go somewhere with sun and a beach and rooms fit for royalty. What about you?"
Joe's high forehead creased in concentration. "Somewhere I can fish. Fresh or saltwater. I'll research possibilities."
Judith nodded. "Done."
The Flynns shook hands.
"Done" was probably not a good choice of words for Judith.
I figured," Cousin Renie said late Tuesday morning, "you needed cheering up before you get the verdict from the B&B board later this afternoon. I've made lunch reservations at Queen Bess's Tea Shop."
"That sounds nice," Judith said in a small voice.
"That's nice, too."
Renie, formally known as Serena Jones, glanced at Judith. "How's the bet coming?"
"It's not," Judith replied as they crossed the bridge that spanned the city's ship canal. "Mother hasn't called Joe anything since we made the bet. She's so quiet lately. It worries me."
Renie turned right off the bridge. "Face it," she said, "our mothers are old. They can't live forever." She frowned as she braked for a five-way stop. "Or can they?"
"They may outlast us," Judith responded with a wan smile. "When my artificial hip bothers me, I get so worn out going back and forth to the toolshed with Mother's meals and medications and whatever else, not to mention my job at the B&B and keeping track of Mike and his family and going up and down, down and up all those stairs in a four-story house—"
"Tell me about it," Renie broke in. "At least your mother is on the premises. Mine's almost a mile away and you know how she phones me six times during my waking hours and expects me to jump whenever she needs a spool of thread or has a twinge in her neck. I average one trip a day to her apartment—and still work as a graphic designer."
"You sound as if you need a vacation, too," Judith noted.
Heading east, Renie steered the Joneses' Toyota Camry—affectionately known to its owners as "Cammy"—above the city's main freeway. "I probably do. January and February are always hectic with annual reports. But once my concepts are ready to be filled with useless, boring copy, things slow down. Did you choose your spot yet?"
Judith nodded. "Dana Point. Why don't you two come with us?"
Renie made a face as she headed past the tree-lined streets north of the University. "I may not be a sun-and-sand person, but Bill, as a native Midwesterner, gets glum when the days are still gloomy. I'll think on it."
"It'd be fun," Judith asserted as Renie started down a narrow street on a steep hill. "Dana Point has a whale watch during March. The beaches are wonderful and we could go over to Catalina."
"It's still California," Renie said, and yawned. "I prefer a swanky mountain resort at Bugler in British Columbia."
"At Dana Point, Joe and Bill could charter a boat," Judith argued as Renie made a quick turn to park on the verge of the cemetery that was located by the tea shop. "The deep-sea fishing there is excellent."
Renie parked across from the tea shop on the edge of the Catholic cemetery where both of the cousins' fathers and several other Grover family members were buried. "We'll toast them with an Earl Grey," Renie said. "Let's eat."
The tea shop was busy, but Judith and Renie were seated almost immediately. The cozy comfort lifted Judith's spirits only a trifle. Her dark eyes scanned the surroundings—flowered draperies, framed photos of English royalty, past and present, sketches of famous castles, stuffed animals, and live doves in a cage by the front window. Dana Point seemed a world away.Scots on the Rocks LP. Copyright © by Mary Daheim. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Mary Richardson Daheim is a Seattle native with a communications degree from the University of Washington. Realizing at an early age that getting published in books with real covers might elude her for years, she worked on daily newspapers and in public relations to help avoid her creditors. She lives in her hometown in a century-old house not unlike Hillside Manor, except for the body count. Daheim is also the author of the Alpine mystery series, the mother of three daughters, and has three grandchildren.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Helped pass many a rainy Eastern evening...worth the time to read!
Always enjoy this series of Bed and Breakfast mayhem....Mary Daheim is a talented writer. The characters are well developed and familiar. The humor is also very good. Another one of her enjoyable mysteries.
I was very disappointed in this book and it was because of the main characters. The women are mean, rude and annoying. The men were selfish and useless. This is not the type of characters I want to spend my free time with.
I happened to pick this book up without reading the earlier ones in the series, so maybe that is why I never got into it. I guess that the basic story was OK, but I couldn't get beyond how the main characters just kept happening to find clues and the way they were immediately accepted by, and heard the life stories of, all the people that they just met. Frankly, it kept reminding me of a Scooby Doo episode. And... (spoiler alert!)... the book ended with the ultimate stereotype as to who dun it... Another thing that I found a bit annoying was how the story made such a point of keeping their destination for the trip a secret - but seeing has how the book is named as it is, it didn't take much for the reader to figure out where they were going...
Scots on the Rocks Mary Daheim Morrow, Jul 31 2007, $23.95 ISBN: 9780060566531 February is an extremely slow month for a Washington State B&B so to escape the weather and her abrasive mother, innkeeper Judith McMonigle Flynn, her spouse former cop Joe, her cousin Serena 'Renie' Jones and her husband Dr. Bill travel to remote Scottish Grimloch Castle. The guys go off fishing but the gals, following an explosion, stumble over the corpse of local Harry Gibbs. Unable to mind her business, Judith investigates. She learns the victim was a father and married to a wealthy oil heiress, whose first husband also died strangely. With Renie¿s help, Judith inquires into whether the wife could be a black widow although other suspects surface. While the locals close rank and tell the sleuthing Americans nothing, Joe and Bill fail to return to the castle. Worried about their husbands as others die mysteriously, Judith believes a die in the wool serial killer is at work, but no motive surfaces. --- The latest B&B amateur sleuth takes the crew across the Atlantic where the brisk Scottish locale with a potential ghost amidst the ancient castle energizes the long running series in spite of the numerous local support players including the victim and the prime suspects being stereotypes. Still the whodunit is fun to follow especially when the cousins worry about their missing in action husbands while more homicides occur. Fans of the B&B will want to join Judith and Renie as they drink tea and Canadian whiskey (Renie is still quite a character) while solving their latest case. --- Harriet Klausner
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