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Retro Reading: Mortar and Murder by Jennie Bentley


By starting this review, I feel like old Rose Dawson, by saying, "It's been..." and then proceeding into the story. Unfortunately, my time away from this series wasn't long enough.

Because it has been so long (that's why I put this as Retro Reading) I had forgotten about the characters and really I didn't care for them as I was reunited with them.

To recap, Avery Baker is a former textile designer who inherited her great aunt's house in Maine. She met and fell in love with Derek Ellis, former doctor turned renovation expert. The two eventually formed a business.

In this installment, they buy a house on Rowanberry Island (a twin house to another on the opposite side of the island) and have their work cut out for them. The first being that they discover a young woman floating in the water.

What they find unusual about the woman is that she's not dressed for the early April weather and has a business card from their realtor, Irina.

After being questioned, Irina doesn't know who the woman is and a day or two later, an ICE agent is also found floating in the water. Derek and Avery seem to have a penchant for finding dead women in the water.

The ICE agent, Lori Trent, had been knocked out with a heavy object, and Avery thinks that maybe Irina hit her with her pysanka egg since it's missing.

Derek has found some antique items for the house and they go pick them up and find out that Ian Burns has married a Russian girl, Angie, who's ready to give birth soon. She translates a piece of paper that Avery found in a secret room of the house and Irina's name, along with two other names are listed on the paper. Since it was written on a newspaper, Derek and Avery determine that someone has been living in the secret room up to a few weeks ago.

Throughout the book a famous author, Gert Heyerdahl, is mentioned. His house is the sister to theirs and Avery is curious about what it looks like on the inside and she eventually gets the chance.

For most of the book, Gert never is an active character until the last few fifty or so pages, but, throughout, the read is very slow.

The plot is interesting since it deals with Russian Brides and the mystery behind them and it only comes to light near the end. Other than that, it's mostly Derek and Avery trying to renovate the house and looking into the murders.

At the end of the book, there are some DIY projects and you might find those interesting.

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