In Poisoned Prose, Ellery Adams’ fifth book in her Books by the Bay series, Olivia Limoges feels that her writing has become stagnant. Therefore, the members of the Bayside Book Writers Club seek out the performances of story tellers who have come to Oyster Bay for a story tellers’ convention. They all become captivated by the narration of Violetta Devereaux, recognized as the top story teller in the region. Violetta tells numerous stories in her performance, aided by the dwarf cousin of Olivia’s close friend, Dixie. In the midst of her stories, Violetta alludes to danger coming her way, even pointing to someone in the audience as a potential betrayer. Furthermore, in her conversation with Olivia after the story performance, she refers to Oyster Bay as her own personal Gethsemane and alludes to a treasure whose secret has been embedded in her stories. The next time Olivia sees the story teller, the woman is dead, the victim of asphyxiation.
This book focuses on the concept of narrative, as written vs. oral and the nature of fiction vs. non-fiction, showing the way each intertwines with each other. It also explores the life that Violetta may have lived while growing up in the Appalachian Mountains, including the death of her younger brother that ultimately drove her out of the region.
Poisoned Prose gripped me less than the previous two books, but I did feel drawn to its deeper focus on the citizens of Oyster Bay, particularly Dixie, a character who has always flitted throughout the books on her roller skates without being as filled out as the other main characters. We also learn much more about Flynn McNulty, the owner of the fun local bookstore Through the Wardrobe and Olivia’s former lover.
Yet again, Karen White delivers an excellent audio version of this book, to be found on Audible.com or MP3 CD through Amazon.com.
Compared to the third and fourth books in the Books by the Bay series, Poisoned Prose has less power, so I can give it only 4 stars, but I still found the book excellent and probably would think of it as having five stars if not for the amazing books it follows.
Poisoned by Prose first came out on October 2013 and is available on Amazon, in bookstores, and in libraries.