The Last Word, the third book in the Books by the Bay series by Ellery Adams, picks up about six months after the conclusion of A Deadly Cliche. (DISCLAIMER: This review include details that will come across as spoilers for anyone who has yet to read the book A Deadly Cliche.)
Following the discovery and true death of her father, as well as the existence of a brother, Olivia has withdrawn from the world, including Sheriff Rawlings, with whom she has just begun a relationship. It takes the need for help from one of the Bayside Writers to force Olivia out of her cocoon and back into the world.
The rich and successful best-selling author Nick Plumley has taken up residence in Oyster Bay and fervently wants to buy the same house that Olivia’s friend Harris has been set on purchasing. When Olivia makes sure that this never happens, Plumley works to ingratiate himself to Harris in order to spend time in this house, but he misses the big discovery: a painting hidden in a thermos in a hiding space under the stairs. Olivia learns that this painting was made by a German prisoner of war who had lived in the POW camp established in Oyster Bay for German prisoners during World War II. The painter’s work is now highly famous, though the man disappeared after escaping from the camp. Since Plumber’s recent best-selling novel centered around the true-life murder of a guard at this very camp by two prisoners in an escape, it soon becomes apparent that Plumley’s murder is connected to the discovery of this painting, leading to a complicated investigation that travels into the the past. This brings Olivia into her own past and her recent discovery of a brother.
Olivia experiences a deep growth in this book, especially in connection with her new family. When Kim, her newly-found sister-in-law, goes into labor but has to have an emergency C-section when the doctors discover a problem with the baby’s heart, Olivia is startled to learn that Kim is asking for her to come to the hospital. She rushes to her sister-in-law’s side and then to Raleigh to be at the hospital there as Kim and Hudson’s representative while Anders is in surgery. In addition, Olivia and Rawlings finally get their relationship properly started, though they keep it discreet. This is the first time that Olivia has allowed a man to get close to her, and I found myself really rooting for Olivia and Rawlings to succeed.
The series is not just on Amazon.com but also on Audible.com, with Karen White ably narrating the book. Although using third person, the series does speak from Olivia’s perspective most of the time, so the choice of narrator has importance in needing a reader who could be Olivia. White has just the right voice to give the wistful thoughts Olivia has buried deep inside her.
I have really enjoyed the first two books in The Books by the Bay series, but Adams really excelled herself in The Last Word. A Killer Plot, while excellent in its depiction of its characters, had a little difficulty wrapping up the book without the help of a scene in which the members of The Bayside Writers Club get Chief Rawlings to explain the solution to them. A Deadly Cliche made significant improvements on this weakness. But I can’t think of anything to suggest in order to improve The Last Word. It not only captured my imagination while reading, but haunted my thoughts while I was not listening to the book. This book will be best experienced after someone has read the first two books in the series, but everyone should read it.
This would make a great book club book; it is so profound and enjoyable on so many different levels that it would create a fascinating discussion. I give The Last Word book 7 stars out of 5!
To order The Last Word (A Books by the Bay Mystery) from Amazon, click the link in the title. It is also available in bookstores and libraries.