“Murder in Cottage #6” by Diana Harman Features a Death in a Spa

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In Diane Harman’s Murder in Cottage #6, Liz Lucas has enjoyed ownership of a spa a little north of San Francisco for three years, the last year as a widow. Things are going along smoothly until one morning, her manager runs to her after having discovered the dead body of the wife of their mayor. The creepy, lecherous police chief arrives, tries to seduce Liz, and then decides that the presence of a bottle of alcohol means that the woman had committed suicide.

Encouraged by Roger, the defense attorney whom Liz has started dating recently, Liz decides to investigate the case herself,  realizing that her spa will suffer damaging publicity if the incompetent police chief can’t solve what turns out to be murder. Liz and her best friend, Judy, explore the local possibilities together, along with Winston, a boxer highly trained as a defense dog given to Liz by Roger for protection.

This book really did not impress me. The details of the investigation seem almost ridiculous even to a civilian like me. For example, the way the police chief jumps to the assumption of suicide makes no sense, and the coroner alerts Liz to the finding of murder before he tells the police and even agrees to hold off telling him for an hour so Liz can tell the mayor and his girlfriend first. In addition to the investigative details, the plot comes across as weak, with a very strange denouement.

The book is narrated by Erin deWard, who has a gentle voice but who does not distinguish between characters with their voices. It got confusing, especially since she doesn’t even make a clear difference between men and women characters.

As I look at the reviews on Amazon, it seems that readers either love the book or hate it. I think the key difference is that those who already have read and loved earlier series by Harman enjoy this book too. But people new to the author do not seem to like it. As this is my first book by Harman, I personally give this book two stars.

To purchase this book for yourself, click here on Amazon.

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