LoveDeadlyLoveVictorian Mansions and Ghost Phones

Author: Dorothy Bodoin

Attempting to move past the amplifying foreboding brought on by her ninth-grade class who recently concocted and nearly succeeded with a plan to kill her, Linnet is looking forward to the comfort of old time charm when she moves into Valentine Villa, a Victorian House on a bucolic sleepy street. However, when a vintage and disconnected phone begins to ring at odd hours with a breathy voice announcing dire warnings and riddles, Linnet begins to discover the history of her seemingly innocuous health. Discovering that the previous tenant involved in a local gothic writers’ club and enamored of all kinds of Valentine memorabilia was poisoned with a cherry tart by a dear friend, leads Linnet to suspect all her friends and neighbors. When the local town policemen, a dapper fellow with a vintage Caddy, starts to call on Linnet, the love that is in the air is shattered with bullets and the phone calls continue finally producing a due date for Linnet’s death. Will she be able to find out who the killer is before she is the next murder victim in Valentine Villa? Does her disorderly class have a hand in the phone calls? Through the only girl in the class who is friendly to Linnet, she learns that there is a mean plot afoot and begins fearing for her life again. Will she be able to find all the answers in time?

Finding Love, Deadly Love in a recent eBay splurge on book lots (when I say splurge, I mean hundreds of books – and yes, I may indeed have a problem.) I randomly selected it from the tottering pile and dove in, looking to discovery another cozy mystery author. I had the intention of donating the books I read to the Nursing Home or my church’s thrift shop, but after becoming enmeshed in Linnet’s charming, yet tense world, the broken old paperback remains with me and won’t be going anywhere. I even purchased a few extra copies to distribute to fellow cozy mystery enthusiast friends.

The first aspect of the novel that captivated me was the concentration on historic/antique homes – the charming pink Valentine Villa drawing me in. As someone who nearly bought a historic home recently (sadly, just too much money) and as someone who proudly owns several antiques including my prize baby, a 1955 Buick Roadmaster, I was happy to relish in a story that appreciates the comfort and beauty of old items, bringing alive the cozy kitchen, the pink stained glass windows, the appreciation of preserving yesteryear and everything that means. Add in Linnet’s love interest with his 1950s car and the song from which the book title derives, a 50s song, and you have one very happy reader and a tangible atmosphere that draws the characters in vibrant colors.

Linnet, persecuted by the ghostly phone, anxious over her students’ plan, and fearful that one of her newfound friends, all members of the gothic writers’ group, might be a killer, instantly makes a connection with readers. Her worry and fear is tangible, as are the cozy aspects of her life (such as the promise of receiving her new puppy soon), and before the first chapter was over, I was hooked. Linnet resonated with me. I cared about her actively and was interested in both the mundane and the extraordinary aspects of her life, rooting for her the entire time and also trying desperately to follow the enigmatic clues to deduce the killer, something I was unable to do before the answer was revealed to our beleaguered heroine.

The sleuthing aspect of the two prong mystery – the class escapades and the search for a killer before the date announced by the mystery caller (marking Linnet’s death) arrives keeps readers guessing and in proper fashion keeps the novel rife with potential suspects and strange characters. The writing style, elegant, descriptive, and yet conversational, added an additional layer and inspired readers to stay up late turning pages, enjoying the tension and the companionship of a vivid cast.

The only disappointing aspect of Love, Deadly Love, surprisingly, was the accelerated ending, which made Linnet’s danger obvious and short-lived. The mystery was tied up too neatly, complete with a postage mail from the killer that conveniently confesses all, including all of the reasons. Some aspects of the mystery, however, remain perplexing and at large, leaving such a great novel with an incredibly anticlimactic conclusion.

Regardless, the atmosphere and cozy charm certainly makes Dorothy Bodoin’s supernatural cozy mystery worth reading and relishing. The characters and the yesteryear images are enthralling, and readers will regret when the ride is over. I wish that instead of being a stand-alone novel, Linnet’s adventures in her gracious Victorian would turn into a series. Highly recommended!

–          Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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