Viola Roberts, romance writer and amateur sleuth, seems to stumble over a lot of bodies and finds yet another one in The Body in the Bathtub by Shéa MacLeod. Viola shows up for her regular bunco night when Viola’s best friend, Cheryl, greets her with the news that the group has a substitute, Chris Marlow, a stranger to Viola, but one whom she soon discovers to be highly unpleasant. Eventually, Viola manages to escape the conversation of the other woman only when Chris says she feels sick and runs to the bathroom. But half an hour later, when Chris has yet to emerge, Viola checks up on the bathroom and finds Chris lying dead in the bathtub.
Going from suspect to suspect, Viola determines to solve this murder, but each direction she turns, she hits a dead end. She finds this especially surprising given how many people had reason to kill Chris. Time begins to run out as the killer begins to target the members of the bunco group, leaving the rest at risk.
This book was a fun listening experience, with an interesting plot and a creative narrator in Viola. I liked the directions the plot took and the angles of Viola’s questions. Viola comes across as a round character with whom we sympathize and want to root for. The other characters do not have the same depth, which disappointed me, since MacLeod has done such a good job of depicting Viola. However, this is book four in the series, so it is possible that the previous books drew the other characters more vividly then and expected us to know them from before. But since this book is written for us to be able to read without having read the previous books, it should not rely on previous books if that is what it is doing.
I enjoyed the portrayals of Viola’s historical romance writing career, which is successful enough that she makes more money than she did as an accountant. She uses her personal experiences to inspire her writing. For example, when Detective Bat threatens to arrest Viola for interfering in his police investigation, Viola sits down at her computer and writes about an evil sheriff in her Western whom she kills off in several fun ways. This style of writing, called pantsing (as in writing by the seat of their pants), is how many authors operate, so I had fun seeing a delightful example of this style at work.
One detail I appreciated about The Body in the Bathtub is that Viola talks about her struggles with her weight and finding clothing that can suit her figure. She talks about her one and only visit to the only local doctor, Dr. Voss, who blamed every health issue of Viola’s, including the sniffles, for her being overweight. Cozy mysteries tend to be heavy on delectable-sounding desserts but with characters who have perfect figures. Cozy mysteries are difficult for those of us trying to lose weight! So I appreciated the fact that this book shows a more realistic portrayal of those of us surrounded (if only in books) by delectable sounding foods.
Yvette Keller performs this audiobook in a delightful manner. She does a good job of making the book believable and enjoyable. The voices she gives her characters and the inflections she uses bring this book to life. I really enjoyed the performance of this audiobook.
I am really glad I got the chance to listen to The Body in the Bathtub. I might not have done so had the author not offered me a copy to review, and I am so happy that she did because I really liked this book. In fact, I have already purchased book one, The Corpse in the Cabana, in the series. I give this book four stars.
Disclaimer: I was given this book for free by the author, but that had no influence on the content of my review.
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