A Deadly Cliche, the second book in the Books by the Bay series by Ellery Adams, continues following the lives of the members of the Bayside Book Writers Club as they both assist the police once again in the search for a murderer and write their respective books.
Having a stronger plot than the first book, A Killer Plot, A Deadly Cliche once again involves a series of crimes that contain literary elements. At each crime scene, the criminals leave messages of contempt by creating scenes that convey cliches: like a knife through butter; as easy as 1, 2, 3; playing without a full deck; and head buried in the sand. The use of the cliches could easily seem contrived as a means of creating an opportunity for a literary group to get involved in a murder mystery, but Adams manages to avoid that pitfall, and the conclusion actually makes the use of cliches not only believable but fascinating.
The characters who gripped me so much in the first book continue to do so in this one, and each shows growth in her or his personal character, between the end of the previous book and the start of this book, as well as throughout the course of this one. The one thing that does annoy me about Olivia is the way she throws her money around. In some cases she uses it to get around the rules imposed on average people, while other times she acts as fairy godmother for people in need. But even when she does use her money for good, it still feels that she is not giving her gifts out of pure unselfishness. In one scene, when Olivia gets the staff of her 5 star restaurant to deliver lunch boxes of sandwiches to those cleaning up after a hurricane, she compares herself to Scrooge delivering Christmas dinner to the Cratchits. Yet she also points out to her staff that by helping the townspeople fix up the town, they will enable their restaurant to reopen faster, thus revealing ulterior motives for her generosity.
A significant side plot comes in the form of a letter sent to Olivia informing her that the father she has always believed dead for 30 years is still alive but on his death bed and demanding $1,000 for further information on him. This storyline adds a lot to Olivia’s personal growth as she reviews her life and relationship with her father. Once again, Captain Haviland, the standard poodle who is Olivia’s constant companion, continues to delight and plays a significant role in the development of the plot.
One further detail that impressed me about this book is the quotes that Adams chooses to introduce each chapter. I usually don’t pay attention to such quotes or think of them in connection to books, but this book uses fascinating quotes that intrigue and also fit in with the plot of the book.
Because of the curious and unique plot, along with the excellent further character development that continues to intrigue, I strongly give this book 5 stars.
A Deadly Cliche is available now and can be ordered on Amazon through clicking the link in the title, or you can check your local bookstore or library.