Death by Adverb is out this week! Thursday is launch day for Rebecca Douglass’s latest in her Pismawallops PTA cozy mystery series. It’s number three, and it’s the best yet! Check out the excerpt at the end…
Death by Adverb (Pismawallops PTA Mysteries #3)
Genre: Cozy mystery
Ebook: 85,000 words
Paperback: approx. 285 pages
JJ MacGregor’s having a rotten summer. Her arm’s in a cast, her jeans are too tight, and her son is spending his vacation with his dad. To make matters worse, her relationship with Police Chief Ron Karlson is up in the air and they haven’t spoken since June. Maybe the only good thing is that she’s got a writing job at last. Wilmont Charleston-Rutherford want her to help him with his memoirs, and JJ doesn’t care if he’s making it all up. All she has to do to make some much-needed money is keep her mouth shut and fix some of the worst prose she’s ever seen.
Of course, keeping her mouth shut isn’t JJ’s strong point. When she loses her temper so does her boss, and she’s back to job-hunting. That’s bad enough, but when Wilmont Charleston-Rutherford turns up dead, everyone remembers JJ fought with him. About the time the police are wondering if JJ might have tried to avenge the English language, her sewer backs up, and the dead man’s missing daughter shows up on her doorstep—only to disappear again before morning. JJ has her work cut out for to find the girl, the killer, and a new septic tank before anyone else dies—but at least the murder has her talking to Ron again.
I’ve read this book (or previous versions thereof) several times now, and I’ve loved it every time. Yes, I’ve been picky about some things, and made suggestions that I bet the author ranted about before she settled down to decide whether to implement them (I think she did!). I’ve done the same to her comments on my books. Which is of course a disclosure that I know the author quite well, considering we’ve never even spoken to each other!
You can read previous comments on the series in my reviews of Death by Ice Cream and Death by Trombone. One of these days I’m going to get all these Death By… titles completely mixed up, since my author friend Noelle Granger also writes Death By… novels.
Death by Adverb picks up where the previous one left off, with JJ recovering from having her arm in plaster after the exciting finale of the last. Apart from JJ’s love life, nothing much has changed. JJ’s love life has gone on hold, yet it was looking very promising after the end of the previous one. I love the way a little long-term romance works its way through these stories. I’m not much of one for ‘romance’, or so I thought, till I realised Elly Griffiths and Lindsay Buroker both use a heavy dose of romance to offset the more gruesome elements of their stories. Anyway, back to Death by Adverb: JJ needs work. An obnoxious guy needs an editor to write his memoirs—he wants a typist to type his appalling grammarless, style-less ego puff, but JJ throws in the towel at that one… and that gives Police Chief Ron (can I marry Ron, please) the opportunity to talk to her in private about her movements. Well, in a police cell, actually…
Rebecca’s writing style is punchy, enticing and silky. She uses words so you don’t notice how smoothly they’re flowing. She plots so that life oozes from the page—in sewage, mist, and seawater, as well as blood. Oh, and cookies and homecooked pie. All Pismawallops Island life is open to her, from the only person in the world who can’t make a cappuchino to the librarians who strike terror into the hearts of those who enter. The island is full of characters, fully-rounded as well as enviably skinny, and of course, all of them have reason to hate the rich victim.
It’s a beautifully written third book in the series, which I couldn’t put down even on the fourth reading, because I simply enjoyed being with JJ and her friends too much.
Oh, and the cover is another brilliant illustration by Danielle English.
Rebecca Douglass was raised on an Island in Puget Sound only a little bigger than Pismawallops, and remembers well the special aspects of island life. She now lives and writes in the San Francisco Bay Area, and can be found on-line at www.ninjalibrarian.com and on Facebook as The Ninja Librarian. In addition to the Pismawallops PTA Mysteries (Death By Ice Cream, Death By Trombone and now Death by Adverb), her books include three Ninja Librarian books, tall tales for all ages, and the humorous middle-grade fantasy Halitor the Hero. Rebecca is a long-time volunteer and servant of her local schools, now due to retire (and seek new opportunities to serve). She spends her free time bicycling, gardening, reading, and supporting her grown sons. For a vacation she likes nothing better than hiking, camping and backpacking.
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Excerpt from Death by Adverb (chapter 1)
“What the—hey, watch that thing!” I yelled as the man in white brought his saw toward my immobilized arm.
Nurse Chu patted my shoulder comfortingly, but she didn’t loosen her grip on the casted limb she held against the table.
“Don’t worry, Ms. MacGregor,” she said, “The doctor hardly ever slips and cuts off anyone’s arm.”
I swallowed hard, reminding myself that these were medical professionals. Despite appearances, they weren’t planning to torture me, cut off my arm, or damage me in any way. I was in the Pismawallops Clinic getting the cast off my broken arm at last, a happy event.
I cringed anyway as the saw started to cut the plaster. “Easy there,” I said, trying to sound like I was joking. “My insurance runs out in a couple of months, and I need to be healthy when that happens!” In fact, I was doing plenty of worrying about insurance. Once my coverage under my ex-husband’s policy ran out, I was going to be scrambling to make payments on even the cheapest insurance. It was worth it, to be free of the man I thought of as pond scum, but I still worried. I fixed my gaze on the educational poster on the wall in front of me, and resolutely ignored the whining saw.
Dr. Salisbury finished cutting the cast loose and peeled the remains away. I stopped staring at the poster enjoining me to wash my hands and avoid the flu, and looked at the thing lying on the table.
The exposed arm looked white and dead, and I wasn’t sure it was attached to me.