Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so excited to welcome Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli back to Escape With Dollycas today!
Starting a Novel When You Would Rather Do Anything else . . .
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
I am trying to begin another novel. There is a contract and I tend to take contracts seriously, but I have no ideas, nobody who deserves killing at the moment. All my trio of women—including smart-mouthed Zoe Zola—want to do is hang out, maybe go to the beach, or sit outside and watch the flowers bloom. They are no help at all and I have no one else to turn to.
What I’m doing is giving myself a couple of days to see if my brain snaps back into orderly thoughts while I cut down weeds in the garden and have a talk with the doe and her twins who hang around with their eyes fixed on the daylilies. We’ve had an agreement in the past that she won’t come into the garden until September first—when I turn it over to her—but she seems to be jumping the gun this year (or is that a horrible pun considering hunting season isn’t far behind?).
Anyway, my talk with the doe turned out the way you might think it would so I got out the Deer-Away and sprayed the lilies but still had no idea of anybody who deserved doing in at the moment—except, of course, that perfidious deer and I wouldn’t because I consider her a friend.
The next thing to do is watch “ID” on television and see if any of those real killers spark anything but I detest them so violently they don’t even qualify for a nuanced, carefully constructed demise.
Then I read books by other mystery writers. Then I read my own books. Then I swore I wouldn’t read another book and was happy when a man I used to know when I worked in real estate called to ask if I knew that Jimmy Hoffa was buried only a few miles from me. He got the story from a man he met in a bar and swore it was true but I hurried him off the phone and decided nothing I was doing did me any good and nobody was going to help me.
Sleep is what did it finally. Lots of sleep. And eating things I like to eat. I didn’t give committing murder another thought and then the roofer came to put a new roof on my house and dumped old shingles and wood all over my garden. Evidently, he stood up there and flung the whole mess as far as he could, taking out most of the daylilies which could have fed a doe and her twins for the entire month.
It was that night, while I was sorrowing over the daylilies, that an idea struck me. It doesn’t involve a roofer. It’s about a private orphanage which used to be back in the woods around here—only a ruin now—and the women who ran it, and two little girls sent to live there and one coming up missing. Then a big X marked into a tree, and . . .
Guess it’s time to stop writing this. I’m pretty certain of my next victim now . . . a woman who used to run a private orphanage—her body is floating in the lake . . . and that big X, stretched and worn . . . marking something nobody wants to think about until a couple more bodies turn up in strange places.
What a relief! Nothing like a floating body to get my brain started.
Thank you, Elizabeth for visiting today!
Keep reading for my thoughts on Elizabeth’s new Little Library Mystery!
Zoe Zola is one of ten invitees to an Agatha Christie symposium. Tempers flare…and then there are nine. Can Jenny Weston save Zoe from murder on the Upper Peninsula?
Little Person author Zoe Zola believes that one of the unluckiest things in life is to receive an invitation—in the form of a letter edged in black—to an Agatha Christie symposium at an old Upper Peninsula hunting lodge. Her reluctance dissipates when she learns that the organizer is named Emily Brent—the name of a character poisoned by cyanide in Christie’s And Then There Were None.
As a dreary rain soaks the U.P., Zoe and nine other Christie scholars—each of whom bears a vague resemblance to one of the classic mystery novel’s characters—arrive at the lodge. At the opening night dinner, arguments flare over the experts’ discordant theories about Christie. Next morning, the guests find one particularly odious man has gone—whereabouts and reasons unknown. Such a coincidental resemblance to a work of fiction is surely impossible; therefore, it appears to be possible.
As the guests disappear, one by one, Zoe resolves to beat a hasty retreat—but her car won’t start. She calls her friend, amateur sleuth/little librarian Jenny Weston, but Jenny will have to wait out a storm off Lake Superior before she can come to the rescue. If Zoe’s to stay alive to greet Jenny when she eventually arrives, she’ll have to draw on everything she knows about Agatha Christie’s devilish plots in Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s fourth tantalizing Little Library mystery.
What a great story using Dame Agatha Christie as its theme. Zoe Zola gets invited to participate in a symposium that will be webcast to a group of subscribers. Zoe is nervous about accepting because the invitation envelope is edged in black, just like funeral notices she and her mother received over the years from their estranged family. When neighbor Jenny Weston decides she needs to get away for a few days and plans to visit her sister near where the symposium is taking place, Zoe decides to attend.
When Jenny and Zoe get into the Upper Peninsula it is raining and both the lodge where the symposium is taking place and her sister’s camp is out in the boonies. Zoe is nervous when Jenny drops her off but soon the other participants arrive for a total of 10. Zoe is anxious to get to the true reason for her being there.
The leader, Emily Brent, the same name as a character killed in Christie’s And Then There Were None and her helper also with another questionable name try to keep the participants under control but they have various opinions about Christie’s work and fame. When one of the scholars is gone the next morning the group is down to nine, the correlations to Christie’s And Then There Were None were not lost on Zoe Zola. When another is said to have left, Zoe is ready to leave herself, but there is no way to contact Jenny. The visit they had planned is rained out so she is stuck. She just hopes the sisters will arrive before she is the one to disappear.
Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli sure sets a spooky/scary scene. An isolated lodge in the middle of Michigan’s north woods in plagued by rain, rain, and more rain. Roads get washed out and fog gives everything a dreary haze. The lodge itself is pretty rustic and not somewhere I would want to stay on a sunny day, but it is the perfect place for a Christie-Esque mystery to play out.
Little person Zoe Zola has not had an easy life and that is the focus in this story. It brings so much clarity to this character. The characters brought into her life in this story are an eclectic group and not very likable but again perfect for this story. Little Librarian Dora has a minor role again as Zoe takes the lead with some assistance from Dora’s daughters. Jenny and Zoe have become fast friends and share some similar traits like stubbornness and perseverance. Zoe takes some risks that were questionable but I understand needing to get away from something to clear your head even if there are animals and humans that could be a risk.
This book is darker than previous books in the series but I loved that it was based on Agatha Christie. The author has laid out a fantastic plot that had a great flow and some epic twists. I do think the eerie ending pushes the rules of the cozy realm to the limit. It was unusual and unexpected but very compelling. The book was hard to put down, but past the 3/4 mark, it was impossible.
While the author does her best to give background so the book can be read on its own, I really stress that the books in this series should be read in order to understand the characters, their lives and how they relate to each other.
And Then They Were Doomed was an interesting foray for the characters from Bear Falls. However, the characters they meet gave me a case of the heebie-jeebbies. Nevertheless, this was A Perfect Escape.
Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
You can read my review of A Most Curious Murder here, She Stopped for Death here,
In Want of a Knife here.
About the Author