It is always fun to welcome new authors to Escape With Dollycas.
My guest today is Kathleen Bridge. Her new Hampton Home & Garden Mystery Series debuted on August 4 with
Better Homes and Corpses.
The first time my husband, infant son, and I traipsed 120 miles due east from Manhattan to Montauk, it was love at first sight. As a transplanted Michigander, Montauk, on the easternmost tip of Long Island, became my touchstone. The town embodied all the things I loved about laid-back summers on the Great Lakes and as an added perk it was only sixteen miles away from glitzy East Hampton—summer home of the rich and famous.
Walking the beach toward the lighthouse, I would fantasize about which rickety steps might lead upward to my new cottage.
Then I found it.
Through a set of newly purchased binoculars, I saw that the cottage was modest. It had three-sided ocean views and an upstairs balcony the size of a ship’s crow’s nest. There were twenty seven wooden steps leading up from the secluded beach. I pictured myself reading mysteries on the screened porch or sipping a glass of local Long Island wine on the swing that gently swayed under the eaves.
There was only one problem. The cottage wasn’t for sale. And even if it was, we couldn’t afford it. We lived in Manhattan in a wonderful apartment and we both had careers—but the price of an oceanfront cottage, even the small cozy one I fell in love with, would’ve been way beyond our means.
But that didn’t stop me.
On our weekend jaunts to Montauk, I would wake at sunrise and walk a mile east from our hotel toward the lighthouse, a beach chair strapped across my back, a thermos of coffee, and a book in my beach bag. Then, I’d set up camp at the bottom of the steps leading up to my cottage. The wonderful thing about Montauk’s beaches was the fact that they had public access. You could own a multimillion dollar cottage on a cliff, but the beach belonged to everyone.
I never saw anyone coming down those twenty-seven steps. No one sat on the swing or stood on the deck gazing out at the Atlantic. I fantasized that the cottage was uninhabited, the family fighting over whether or not to sell. (Sell, darn it!) My husband thought I was bordering on the obsessive but I was determined to have my cozy four-room cottage. (I knew it had four rooms because I’d stalked a local real estate agent until she showed me photos of the no frills cottage from when it’d been sold years before.) I had all the realtors in town on speed dial, they had me on their blocked list.
One day, I opened my laptop, typed: BETTER HOMES AND CORPSES—A Hamptons Home and Garden Mystery. A few pages later, I got the cottage of my dreams. It was everything I’d imagined, right down to the flagstone fireplace, wide-planked wood floors, and a vintage turquoise fridge…
I got my cottage in Montauk without spending a dime.
About The Author
Kathleen Bridge started her writing career working at the Michigan State University News in East Lansing, Michigan. She is the author and photographer of an antique reference guide, Lithographed Paper Toys, Books, and Games, and the author of Revenge of the Sports Widows—How to Cope with a Sports Fanatic. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and has taught creative writing classes at the William Cullen Bryant Library in Roslyn, New York. Kathleen is also an antiques dealer in Long Island, New York, and has contributed to Country Living magazine.
Find out more on her webpage here.
Better Homes and Corpses
(Hamptons Home & Garden Mystery)
Brand New Series
Setting – New York
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (August 4, 2015)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Marjorie Muns
Cover Design by Diane Kolsky
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book ASIN: B00QH831XM
After Meg Barrett found her fiancé still had designs on his ex-wife, she decided it was time to refurbish her life. Leaving her glamorous job at a top home and garden magazine, she fled Manhattan for Montauk, only to find decorating can sometimes lead to detecting…
In between scouring estate sales for her new interior design business, Cottages by the Sea, Meg visits the swanky East Hampton home of her old college roommate, Jillian Spenser. But instead of seeing how the other half lives—she learns how the other half dies. Jillian’s mother, known as the Queen Mother of the Hamptons, has been murdered. Someone has staged a coup.
When she helps a friend inventory the Spensers’ estate for the insurance company, Meg finds herself right in the thick of things. Cataloging valuable antiques and art loses its charm when Meg discovers that the Spenser family has been hiding dangerous secrets, which may have furnished a murderer with a motive. As Meg gets closer to the truth, the killer will do anything to paint her out of the picture…
I am really taken with this new protagonist. Meg Barrett has inherited a investigative gene from her dad, a retired police officer. And he may be retired but doesn’t mind using his connections to help her with her queries. She has left her job in Manhattan and is starting her own home decorating business in Montauk with the help of her friend Elle. A part of her past is in Montauk though. Her old college roommate, Jillian Spenser. It was only for one semester so when Jillian’s mother, the Queen Mother of the Hamptons, invites her to stop by their huge mansion she is quite surprised. When she arrives for her appointment she walks in to find Jillian on the floor cradling the Queen Mum’s very dead body. Jillian is a mess and making no sense. The police are called and an investigation is launched. At the same time the insurance company for the family hires Elle to inventory the home’s property to be sure nothing has been stolen. She asks Meg to help her and puts Meg in the perfect position to do a little investigating on her own.
This was a fun debut. The Spensers, their staff, and those that live on the property are quite an interesting bunch. Most are keeping something secret or hiding something. Just when I thought I figured out who had means, motive and opportunity there would be a twist that would knock my theory all out of whack. The ending turned out to be quite a surprise. I would say my speculations were about 10% right.
The Spenser home is quite a spectacular place. Four floors including an attic full of junk, a few treasures and a stuffed beast that would be gone so fast if I lived there. The living areas are beautifully furnished with the exception of Jillian’s room who had a rebellious streak and removed her antique furniture for things that were probably purchased at a discount store.
The author has a writing style that feel very familiar, a bit Christie – ish. She draws us in and holds us tight with a mystery that is ideally paced. She gives us detailed descriptions to set the time and the place and then she drops a clue here and a clue there as the reader follows along with Meg still trying to solve the mystery first.
This is a great start for the series. I am hoping to get to know Meg, her family and friends better in future installments. Meg is starting a new adventure and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.
Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 2 copies to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”