I just realized I had this review on my calendar for tomorrow and it was supposed to be posted today.
My apologies to the author.
Copper Waters: A New Zealand Cottage Mystery
by Marlene Bell
About Copper Waters
Copper Waters: A New Zealand Cottage Mystery (Annalisse Series)
4th in Series
Setting – New Zealand – South Island
Ewephoric Publishing (October 7, 2022)
Paperback : 342 pages
ISBN-10 : 0999539493
ISBN-13 : 978-0999539491
Digital Print Length : 280 pages
ASIN : B0BL42NBFY
A rural New Zealand vacation turns poisonous.
Antiquities expert Annalisse Drury and tycoon Alec Zavos are at an impasse in their relationship when Alec refuses to clear up a paternity issue with an ex-lover.
Frustrated with his avoidance when their future is at stake, Annalisse accepts an invitation from an acquaintance to fly to New Zealand—hoping to escape the recent turbulence in her life.
But even Annalisse’s cottage idyll on the family sheep farm isn’t immune to intrigue.
Alec sends a mutual friend and detective, Bill Drake, to follow her, and a local resident who accompanies them from the Christchurch airport dies mysteriously soon after. A second violent death finds Annalisse and Bill at odds with the official investigations.
The local police want to close both cases as quickly as possible—without unearthing the town’s dirty secrets.
As she and Bill pursue their own leads at serious cost, the dual mysteries force Annalisse to question everything she thought she knew about family ties, politics, and the art of small-town betrayal.
Annalisse Drury, an antiques expert, and her beau, Alec Zavos have hit a bump in their relationship so when Annalisse receives a message that her mother who she had grown up thinking was her aunt, may be in New Zealand she hops on a plane to get answers. Alec sends Bill Drake, a mutual friend, and detective with her in case she runs into any trouble.
Upon arrival, an elderly man arrives to take Bill and Annelisse to her friend Ethan’s homestead but leaves them just before the closest town. Within an hour the man is dead. The victim of an accident or a murder?
Not long into their visit, there is another death. Again an accident or murder?
Not trusting the local police Bill and Annelisse question everything. Could their own fates be dire?
I am usually a stickler for reading series books in order but was so intrigued by this story’s synopsis I decided to jump right in. Soon after I started I realized with all the mentions of happenings in previous books I had made a mistake. It was clear there was a huge plotline that started in the first book that continued through the series. Since I didn’t have time to go back to read the three previous books in time to meet the commitment for this review I kept reading appreciative of the author’s efforts to give new readers background on the characters.
Annalisse and Alec appear to have a complicated relationship. Alec is very wealthy and that appears to have brought an ex-girlfriend back into his life with a child. Annalisse was raised by her “aunt and uncle” on their farm after her “parents” had died. After her “uncle” was arrested she learned that her aunt was really her mother, born out of an affair. That is where this story picks up.
Annalisse came across to me as very impulsive taking off to New Zealand with no real plan. Bill was a calming influence and a great sounding board. They got along well and worked well together too. Alec was hard to read. He wanted to be with Annalisse but wasn’t in any hurry to solve the issue with his ex and only arrived in New Zealand after most of the chaos was over. His family name was a double-edged sword after he arrived.
The mystery contained in this story was very interesting but something felt off the entire time which really alerted my spidey sense early on. I had some great theories but then the author threw in a major twist that was quite jolting when Annalisse started to put the clues together. This shook up everything.
I really enjoyed the vivid pictures of New Zealand the author painted with her words of Bluebasin Lake, Woolcomb Station, and all the other places Annalisse and Bill traveled. The environmental details about the lake were compelling. I also learned a bit about sheep and a Corriedale ram named Dax.
Copper Waters is a unique story with family secrets and corruption beyond my expectations.
I know I would have enjoyed the story more had I gotten to know the main characters better by reading previous installments but the mystery in this story held my attention. I had to know the truth and was floored by the reveal. I am rounding up to 4 star-fish. I do hope to go back and read the series from the start someday.
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About Marlene M. Bell
Marlene M. Bell is an eclectic mystery writer, artist, photographer, and she raises sheep on a ranch in wooded East Texas with her husband, Gregg.
Marlene’s Annalisse series boasts numerous honors including the Independent Press Award for Best Mystery (Spent Identity,) and FAPA— Florida Author’s President’s Gold Award for two other installments, (Stolen Obsession and Scattered Legacy.) Her mysteries with a touch of romantic suspense are found at her websites or at online retail outlets.
She also offers the first of her children’s picture books, Mia and Nattie: One Great Team! Based on true events from the Bell’s ranch. The simple text and illustrations are a touching tribute of compassion and love between a little girl and her lamb.
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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.”