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In the small coastal town of Oyster Bay, North Carolina, you'll find plenty of characters, ne'er-do-wells, and even a few celebs trying to duck the paparazzi. But when murder joins this curious community, the Bayside Book Writers are there to get the story...

Olivia Limoges is the subject of constant gossip. Ever since she came back to town-a return as mysterious as her departure-Olivia has kept to herself, her dog, and her unfinished novel. With a little cajoling from the eminently charming writer Camden Ford, she agrees to join the Bayside Book Writers, break her writer's block, and even make a few friends...

But when townspeople start turning up dead with haiku poems left by the bodies, anyone with a flair for language is suddenly suspect. And it's up to Olivia to catch the killer before she meets her own surprise ending.

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311 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 2010

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About the author

Ellery Adams

60 books3,940 followers
USA Today and New York Times bestseller author Ellery Adams has written over forty novels and can’t imagine spending a day away from the keyboard. Ms. Adams, a Native New Yorker, has had a lifelong love affair with stories, food, rescue animals, and large bodies of water. When not working on her next novel, she bakes, gardens, drinks vats of coffee, spoils her three cats, and searches for snacks. She lives with her husband and two children (aka the Trolls) in North Carolina.

Ellery's Series Include: Secret, Book, & Scone Society (Kensington) Book Retreat Mysteries (Kensington) Books By the Bay Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries ((Berkley Prime Crime), Molly Appleby Antiques & Collectibles Mysteries (Beyond the Page), and Hope Street Mysteries (Beyond the Page).

For more information, please visit www.elleryadamsmysteries.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 573 reviews
Profile Image for Judy.
914 reviews
March 13, 2013
"How bad could it be?" I thought, as I ordered it from Amazon. This book's protagonist is an independently wealthy woman who owns a restaurant, one character owns a bookstore, and other people, who originally started meeting as a writers group, try to help solve a crime.

Not good enough. There are two gay characters whom the author appears to like, but who are so stereotyped that they drove me crazy. The worst part is the language. The author was born and grew up on Long Island Sound (thus eliminating the excuse that English is a second language for her), and has been a teacher and a tech writer, came up with phrases such as:

--"With well-timed synchronicity, the lights went out the same moment the projector was turned on . . . " (p. 137)
--(The protagonist says the following to her dog, after he nudges her computer's mouse with his nose) "You're right, Captain Task Master. No more procrastinating. I'll read XXX's chapter before I work on my own if that's suitable." (p. 159)
--"Would you care to have dinner with me over the weekend? I promise not to discuss business matters . . . it would be purely platonic . . ." (by which the character appears to mean that it will be a social, not business, meeting).

There is also a section where characters from the writers group sit in the front row of a town meeting so that they can observe the reactions of the people at the meeting. (The FRONT ROW???)

Sorry - I'll stop now. :-)
Profile Image for Juli.
1,844 reviews470 followers
June 27, 2018
I love it when I find a good cozy mystery series set in NC where I live. I've had the Books By the Bay series on my TBR shelf for months waiting for the school year to end so I could indulge myself. Summer is here....and I cracked open book one as soon as I could! Glad I did!

Olivia Limoges is a wealthy heiress, but life wasn't always like that for her. As a child, she lived in Oyster Bay, NC with her parents. Then her mother died during a violent storm and her father disappeared. Olivia was then raised by her wealthy grandmother. As a young adult, she inherited the family money and lived a jet-set life for years. She returned to Oyster Bay to open a restaurant. Unfortunately her standoffish, brusque manner makes her the subject of much gossip in the small town and she finds herself with few friends. At the coaxing of a writer friend, Camden Ford, she joins a local writing club, The Bayside Book Writers, fixing up a building on her property to give the club a place to meet. Unfortunately Camden is soon murdered, a mysterious haiku poem left at the scene of his death. Other deaths follow....all with haiku left near the bodies. Olivia and the Bayside Writers are on the case. Who thinks they have a poetic license to kill? And can the lively writers solve the case before more people die?

I had a hard time liking Olivia at the beginning of this story. In fact, I almost stopped reading the book several times. I found her rude, spoiled and just unlikable. But......as her character developed and I learned more about why she is prickly as a hedgehog....I began to understand the character better and started enjoying the story. She is definitely a strong female main character, and she has flaws. But Olivia starts to learn about herself and begins to grow as a person in this story. Just get past the part where she is being an ass......don't stop reading! It gets better...I promise! The side characters are all quirky, fun and help round out the group of amateur sleuths.....an edgy punkish rebel, a worn out mom, a sweet man with low self esteem, and a widowed police chief....just a nice group of creative folks. And a great group of friends for a cranky, spoiled restaurant owner. Add in her pampered poodle and it's a nice well-rounded diverse group.

The mystery is engaging, even if the haiku poems left seemed a bit over-the-top. It's a cozy mystery....over-the-top is expected. The book moves along at a nice pace, with plenty of suspects. The background theme of the writer's group and Olivia trying to find some peace about her past did not overpower the mystery but added dimension to the book. Ellery Adams does not write fluffy cozy novels, but really develops her characters and puts some depth into things. I like that for the most part, although sometimes it does get a bit too emo for me. There is a bit of a slight love triangle/confusion in relationships sort of plot device that starts in this first book. I hope it gets resolved quickly. It's just too tropey of a plot device in cozy mysteries.....and to be honest Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen used up all my patience with it. Overused and often annoying. I'm hoping the situation is decided and finished quickly.

All in all, a nice start to this series. I'm already reading book 2. I like the characters, the location and the writing style. Glad I finally found the time to read this series!
Profile Image for Cheryl.
422 reviews7 followers
March 13, 2011
Olivia Limoges grew up in Oyster Bay, NC, but went to live with her grandmother after her mother was killed in an accident and her father disappeared. She returns after an extended absence and is the subject of much gossip surrounding the circumstances of her departure from, and return to, Oyster Bay. Olivia pretty much keeps to herself aside from her dog, Captain Haviland (Yeah, the dog's a captain.) and her restaurant and other real estate holdings. She ends up being cajoled into joining a fledgling book writers club begun by Camden Ford, a visitor to the area. A shy programmer, a bartender with multiple piercings and an attitude and a housewife round out the group. However, shortly after Olivia joins, one of their own is murdered. This prompts the remaining members of the writers group to take it upon themselves to help the sheriff find the killer, who may have acted because of a novel being written that's a thinly disguised autobiography of a real rock star.

The biggest problem this book had was that the main character was really unlikeable. One would think that her childhood losses might make her compassionate, but Olivia seemed to think that her stacks of money and privileged upbringing entitled her to do anything she wanted without reprisal. One of the most annoying things, which the author seemed to want to set up as a cute, quirky trait, was her habit of parking anywhere she wanted to, regardless of the rules or, I should say, laws. Olivia parked in handicapped spots (and was later jokingly reprimanded by the sheriff), reserved spots and fire zones. She disregarded leash laws, saying she would prefer to pay a fine rather than subject her dog to the indignity of a harness. She came off as very aloof and cold and, aside from her chef, she barely acknowledged the existence her restaurant staff. She only ever had very casual relationships, apparently stemming from her tragic childhood, and if any man ever wanted to get emotionally close, she'd break off all contact. And none of the other characters ever called her out on her behavior. Instead, everyone seemed to kowtow to her.

Though Olivia was my biggest complaint, there were plenty of other problems. The dog...look, I love animals and don't think they get nearly enough respect, but this dog seemed to understand everything and practically gave Olivia advice. It was just too much. Then, there were the two men who were supposed to be Olivia's potential love interests. There was zero chemistry between anyone and I couldn't have cared less if she ended up with either man. Actually, I didn't feel a connection to any of the other characters in the book, and the only person I really liked was the first one killed.

I stuck with this book until the end thinking the resolution would make it worth it, or Olivia would somehow become likeable. I was wrong on both counts. I don't want to be specific in case this review doesn't discourage you from reading A Killer Plot, but the murderer and the reason for the killings were really weak and forced. Though the writing was good, the flimsy storyline and character problems were too much to overcome and I definitely won't be reading the sequel. If you're looking for a good cozy series, I'd recommend Jenn McKinlay's Cupcake Bakery mysteries.
September 29, 2022
* I take my writing seriously and consider comments the reward. Please do not leave “like button” clicks, until you are accompanying them with remarks for me. *

I like Ellery Adams! A real estate owner returns for the first time since childhood. We open with Olivia asserting comical self-assurance. Her sole friend owns a diner and I worried about following a tough chick for whom I couldn’t melt. Particularly through loving her dog, Haviland, Olivia demonstrates definite compassion. Her alarming past gives cause for sympathy and vulnerability. I like this author's writing, pace, demeanour, and enjoy Olivia. The gradual introduction of her layered character is a pleasure, in a fun setting wonderfully different from my home.

All we know is that her Mother passed away and after an impoverished year in a lighthouse cottage with a drunken Father; some terrible event occurred in a boat whereupon the child was drifting and he, not seen again. A wealthy Grandma raised her; hence her fortuitous societal position. Along with Olivia being forty, a joyous change in mystery fiction; Ellery’s choice to give us a rich but reachable protagonist creates a bright difference too. Surely readers are tired of character sympathy wrangled through dire circumstances of the downtrodden. I think we average folks enjoy seeing a heroine who can purchase whatever she wishes; free of our usual encumbrances.

Readers too, are freed: to derive all of the novel’s turbulence from the mystery. A journalist convinces Olivia to join a writer’s group and to provide their meeting place, in her lighthouse cottage, adjacent to her home. This furnishes a group of friends who melt the layers of our acquaintance with Olivia; done really naturally. The controversial journalist dies in a manner police can’t explain but the writer’s group believes his manuscript will be helpful. A great author peppers characters with traits that form tangible people; like beachcombing. I never connected with the victim and culprits but they produced a creative familial motive.
Profile Image for Myhotstylist.
181 reviews
September 1, 2010
Im pretty torn with my thoughts on this book.

It started out with a really good bang and then midway through, it fell flat. I had a hard time connecting with the main character being that she is 40ish, filthy rich and the topic of the town gosip. She takes her dog everywhere with her, without reprocussion, and about every 2-3 pages shes feeding her poodle some gawd awful garbage enough to give anyone a heart attack. The poodle however was probably the best character here. Hes well mannored obeys every single command, and yet that just adds to the un-believeable-ness to the book.

Id say the book was about 100 pages too long at most. But the author did a great job describing the scenery, and I really enjoyed one of the secondary characters "Dixie"

I probably wont follow up with the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Tari.
2,055 reviews66 followers
March 18, 2019
This is the first in another awesome series by this author. I love the other series I've read in so far, and this was not a disappointment. It reminded me a lot of the friends in her Supper Club mysteries. I liked that Olivia wasn't a typical protagonist. She was very different in that she was actually rich and owned a lot of property in the town of Oyster Bay, NC.

Olivia Limoges wasn't a stranger to the gossip and snarky comments that seemed to go with her name around town, but one day after hearing some ladies at the grocery talking about her not giving back to the town, she decided to do something about that. With a little nudge from her friend Dixie who worked at her husband Grumpy's Diner, Olivia became a member of a local writers' group, and she wanted to do something nice for them by having her lighthouse cottage renovated. After the murder of one of their own, the group became amateur sleuths as well as writers doing critiques for each other.

I had definitely not guessed who the killer was. I loved how it went down, even Haviland, Olivia's well-trained and intelligent poodle got to play a small part in going after the killer. He was such a cool dog--it was great how polite he was and how he seemed to know what his human needed. While trying to find the killer, Haviland was used to scare Olivia off the case.

Like some of Ms. Adams' other series, this wasn't only a story about a murder mystery, but it was people becoming friends and helping each other heal whether physically or emotionally, getting involved and actually interested in one another's lives. I love that about a series, because when the perp is caught, you get to have more of the story. I enjoy being able to hear the full reason behind the crimes committed and that everyone involved is safely locked up. Olivia herself had been in need of personal healing, and I think getting to know the others in the group and taking a vested interest in them gave her that human connection that she'd been lacking. She and her friends grew a lot just from their meeting to several weeks later when everyone was enjoying the July 4th fireworks. Olivia found out it wasn't just enough to shell out money to her town, but giving of herself was important too, and it made her feel very much alive again.
Profile Image for Anna.
67 reviews1 follower
May 17, 2021
I’m hooked and I knew I would be! I don’t know why it took me so long to start this series, but it’s clear I read it at just the right time. I look forward to reading the rest of the series!
Profile Image for Kim Kaso.
298 reviews59 followers
September 3, 2016
3.5, rounded down. A pleasant cozy, which read quickly. It was good for giving me breaks from some heavier/tougher emotionally reads. A nice set-up, but with 3 dead bodies in a relatively small town, the crime statistics are going to go haywire faster than in St Mary's Mead or Cabot Cove. Our protagonist has a prodigy of a standard poodle and joins a writing group from which we get treated to samples of various writing genres. She has a somewhat tragic past with her town but has made good since. Characters feel a little like they are stock players in a repertory mystery theatre. Not a bad way to spend some hours, I have the first in another of her series to check out as well. I will very likely read her again. If you are a fan of the cozy, this is a good series to check out for yourself.
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
1,999 reviews15.7k followers
June 9, 2017
If you pick this book up, please continue reading, Olivia does grow on you, I promise....
When I first started this, I was thinking I am not going to like this, not one little bit, this Olivia is not my people.... but she grew on me, and by the end I liked her, quite a bit actually.... her dog and her were a bit much for me, and I'm sensing a love triangle in the future, but other than that this was a really good book.... The mystery was interesting, I liked how they threw in the haiku poem.... and I definitely did not see things coming.... also really liked all the secondary characters in the book, I think I will definitely give the next book in the series a try, and see what direction it goes in....
Profile Image for Caitlyn.
161 reviews35 followers
June 15, 2016
BotD - A Killer Plot (Books by the Bay #1) by Ellery Adams. Great plot, just enough twists to keep me off track but not for me to lose interest. The main protag, Olivia, is certainly interesting as is the rest of the Bayside Book Writers. Can't wait to see further character development. Love the town and the quirky supporting cast, they add wonderful seasoning. Last, but definitely not least, Captain Haviland (black, standard poodle) make a delightful sidekick.
Profile Image for Stacy.
1,560 reviews
January 29, 2019
I'm slowly trying all of the various series by Ellery Adams to see which ones I like the best. So far this Books by the Bay series and the Book Retreat series are tied as my favorites. This was the first in the Books by the Bay series and features Olivia Limoges, a wealthy woman who has come back home and is helping out the town in her own way while she works on writing her first novel. When one of the members of her writer's group is killed it shakes up the little group and prompts some investigating. Really loved the characters and look forward to seeing how their lives progress.
Profile Image for Caroline.
213 reviews
June 11, 2010
Loved this book! Although I wasn't too fond of the protag at first, I learned about her and came to like her. There's plenty of room to grow and I look forward to seeing what happens to the town, our heroine and her friends in the next book.
Profile Image for Book Concierge.
2,709 reviews325 followers
July 23, 2016
Oyster Bay, North Carolina used to be a well-kept secret, but since a national magazine rated it one of the best places to live / vacation, the population has swelled and economic growth has increased. Olivia Limoges has recently returned to Oyster Bay; wealthy, single and aloof, she owns a number of commercial buildings as well as her family homestead. A chance encounter with a group of writers, draws her out of her shell, but before she had establish herself with the group one of them is murdered.

This is a pretty interesting cozy mystery, featuring a group of aspiring authors who together try to solve the murder of one of their group. I like Olivia Limoges, though I was picturing her as much older (and eventually figured out she’s probably in her mid-30s, or perhaps early-40s). I like that her faithful dog – a standard poodle named Captain Haviland – is a DOG, not a character who helps solve the crime (though his ability to track does come into play). I also like that Olivia and her friends do not take unnecessary chances; they are curious and do meddle (wouldn’t be much of a cozy mystery without SOME intervention by the amateur sleuths), but they seem to know when to back away and let Police Chief Sawyer Rawlings step in.

I thought Adams did a good job of setting the scene. I really got the sense of a small sea-side community that relies on tourist trade in season, fishing year-round, and is struggling with issues of new-found wealth and investment. As is typical of most cozies, there’s a pretty large cast of supporting players, not a few of whom are pretty colorful (a roller-skating dwarf waitress, for example) I found a few of the relationships stretched credulity, but not enough to mar the fun.

Adams includes several interludes where the writers’ group members share chapters from the books they are working on. Well … I could have done without those. The reveal seemed abrupt and it happened a good 50 pages before the book ended, which made me wonder if there wasn’t another twist coming up. That kind of extra padding really isn’t necessary.

Still, it held my attention, it had a good pace and I enjoyed trying to figure out who-done-it. I’ll definitely read another in the series.
Profile Image for Jeannie and Louis Rigod.
1,976 reviews29 followers
June 7, 2010
This book rates a 'superb' from me which I guess equals A+ or 5 stars.
A new author is now on my list of watching for the next release. The mystery was murders. However, they were done in a surprisingly unconventional way. You think you know who has done it but...you are in for a surprise! Also the characters were well formed and you pick up favorites from the very frist page. I learned of this book from a cozy group but, I would suggest that those who enjoy soft-boiled murders will also enjoy this one. I put it in "Murder Mystery" category rather than "Cozy Murders." This was a good book and should be read by lovers of all mysteries.
Profile Image for Sally Ross.
118 reviews1 follower
July 23, 2010
I won this book in a goodreads giveaway and I have to say it's probably not something I would have normally picked to read. That however, is what's so great about goodreads giveaways, I ended up really enjoying this book. The characters and the small town remindeded me of "Murder She Wrote" or even "The Gilmore Girls". I am the "owner" of three dogs, and loved the interaction between Olivia and her poodle. I am looking forward to the second in this series. This is a perfect summer read, I've already passed it on to my hairdresser.
959 reviews
June 27, 2016
I have wanted to read this series for awhile but unfortunately it was not all that I had hoped for. My main problem with this book was the protagonist. To put it plainly she was a snob. It was not because she only like certain coffee or nice things- I could have overlooked that stuff - it was the fact that she looked down on others that I could not get past. I loved the setting and some of the supporting characters and the actual mystery was also intriguing. Since I am a character driven reader I just wish I would have liked the protagonist more.
Profile Image for Heidi Prockish.
443 reviews13 followers
June 24, 2019
Ellery Adams is one of my favorite authors and I am so glad I picked up this book. She writes in a way that makes me want to slow down and enjoy every detail of the story.

Awesome book, excited to read the next one.
Profile Image for Brooke Blogs.
593 reviews188 followers
November 23, 2019
This is a book that has been on my shelf for a while, just waiting for me to pick it up to read. This month was the time, as an online book group I belong to chose it as the November read. I was glad to read something I had on my shelf. This definitely struck me as a different kind of cozy than I've read before. A few things set it apart:

1) Cursing - not strong; mild and sporadic, but still, something I don't normally come across in a cozy
2) Story snippets - the book centers around a writing group, so we get snippets of the books they are writing
3) Three murder victims - this story just kept getting more involved

I didn't love this book but I didn't hate it. The way the story wrapped up and some of the involvement of the police chief telling Olivia and other characters things about the investigation didn't jive with me. I would read more in the series and that is what took this one from 2 stars to 3 stars for me. Olivia grew on me a little by the end of the story. I actually didn't like her very much for most of the book.
Profile Image for Kevin.
1,427 reviews35 followers
December 22, 2019
3 stars
This series is very different from Adams’ Book Retreat Mysteries Series, especially the main characters. But one thing they do have in common is their ability to solve mysteries. I knew this series was about books but that’s all I knew so I surprised to find out the main character was a restaurant owner, thought for sure that the lighthouse on the cover was a bookstore. The interaction with the writer’s group makes for a refreshing viewpoint in helping to solve the crime.
The story did take a little while to grab my interest, but that may be due to the fact that it’s a first in the series and the author had a lot of world and character building going on early in the novel.
Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
2,918 reviews1,469 followers
July 10, 2017
Olivia Limoges has returned to her hometown of Oyster Bay, North Carolina after many years away. She has invested in the community, starting a 5 star restaurant and buying many of the decaying old buildings. Oyster Bay is a boom town but the locals are suspicious of outsiders, including Olivia. She and her black standard poodle, Captain Haviland, stay mostly in her lighthouse and keep to themselves. When she meets Camden, a vibrant gossip writer from Hollywood, he persuades her to join a local writers' group. Before Olivia gets a chance to really take part, Camden is murdered. She is furious and wants the killer found NOW. The killer is crafty however, leaving haiku poems as his signature. The police are on it but not moving fast enough for Olivia. Can she and Haviland help solve the murder before it's too late? Maybe with the help of a few new friends they can.

I liked the idea of the book club centered mystery series and I could relate to Oyster Bay. I may be a Yankee but we have small towns and beaches here too. Oyster Bay reminded me of how Cape Cod probably was before the Kennedys and vacationers took over. I could easily picture the town as a town on Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard before they became chichi.

The mystery itself was somewhat interesting. It didn't really grab me until the halfway point. It was hard to figure out who did it when the full cast of characters hadn't been introduced. In the second half I was able to make a list of suspects but I still never figured out why. I don't know how Olivia did it! The clues didn't ring a bell for me and the motive didn't make sense. The killer deserves a shot at getting help for mental illness because they are seriously messed up crazy. The killer is obviously literate which made me suspect someone different. It was a pleasant surprise to not be able to figure it out, but at the same time, the multiple murders and some characters' pasts make this story dark for a cozy mystery. I prefer my stories a little lighter.

Most of the characters were appealing - with the exception of Olivia. She's an insufferable food snob and so wealthy she thinks of tossing money or 5 star restaurant food off as bribes. I did not like the way she acquired her new furniture. Yes she has invested in the community but she is just so unaware of how she comes off to strangers. She has dark secrets in her past and hasn't fully come to terms with her childhood. This makes her closed off and wary of getting close to anyone. That's another thing I didn't like about her-how she uses people to have casual relationships with and tosses them aside when they start to get too close. I should have known I wouldn't get along with Olivia when I saw the Poodle on the cover. I love dogs! I love dogs more than people. I just don't love Poodles. I also found Haviland unbelievable. Can Poodles even be used as tracking dogs? They're not scent hounds- they were meant to retrieve ducks from the water- hence the silly haircut which makes them buoyant. Though Haviland walks on the beach with Olivia every day, he never seems to go swimming. I found him rather unrealistic for a Poodle and snobby for a dog. I LOVE dogs- I love dogs more than people and would totally treat my dog like a person- to a certain extent. Olivia is very haughty about it. Haviland is Olivia's other half. She needs friends. She starts off with only one friend-Dixie, from the local diner. I don't think they're all that close. Maybe Olivia will loosen up as the books progress because she does make friends in this novel.

I like Olivia's new friends very much. Laurel, the harried mother of toddler twin boys is spot on right down to the steamy romance novel she is trying to write when the twins are napping. She's a good mother and I like some of the creative ways she handles them. She's my favorite of the writer's group. I found Camden and his partner complete stereotypes. I wasn't thrilled with Camden's occupation and his blatant spying in order to get inspiration for his novel. He didn't deserve to die though. Harris is my second favorite character. He's cute in an awkward sort of way. Millay is a tough one to get to know. I'm not sure I really like her. Would she identify as half-Asian or mixed? Chief Rawlings is a very atypical police chief for this sort of novel. I liked him and didn't get the sense he was flirting with Olivia. I didn't trust Flynn, the bookstore owner. He hasn't revealed much about himself and closing a business whenever you feel like it is weird and bad for business.

I'm not in any hurry to read more of this series.

Content warning:
Some language
One bad attempt at a historical romance love scene
Profile Image for Lisa Cornelius Ashby.
126 reviews6 followers
November 19, 2019
Loved, Loved, Loved this first book in this cozy series! The protagonist was intelligent, strong, wonderfully flawed, and likable, and fun! Her relationship with her dog was so endearing. He was a great cozy companion character. The mystery was great! I could not guess the killer, which made it that much more fun! I will definitely continue this series!
429 reviews2 followers
August 18, 2020
Very enjoyable! I loved the character development. I have heard other readers say that there were a lot of characters to remember. Yes, but keep in mind that this is the first book of a series of eight sequential books. It is important to remember who the characters are and to watch their character development. I made notes that I will refer to while reading the rest of the books. Everything that happens in this book is important! Looking forward to book #2, A Deadly Cliche. Ellery Adams is quite possibly my favorite author at this point in my life.
Profile Image for Avid Series Reader.
1,253 reviews1 follower
February 26, 2012
A Killer Plot is the first book in the Books by the Bay mystery series by Ellery Adams, set in the present day along the North Carolina coast. The cover picture includes a lighthouse with a glimpse of the ocean, which attracted my interest to the series. I was disappointed by the small role the coastline setting plays in the story (metal-detector sweeps on the beach).

I disliked protagonist Olivia Limoges from her introduction in the first scene, where she crushes fellow shoppers' groceries because she overhears them gossiping about her. Immediately following her tantrum, she flaunts her wealth in their faces by paying double for the items she ruined.

Olivia was born in Oyster Bay. At age ten she lost her mother in a tragic accident, then was abandoned by her father during a storm at sea. She grew up at a boarding school, returned as a wealthy adult. She owns a large portion of the town's real estate, including a five-star restaurant (that she manages personally on a casual drop-in basis). She emphasizes her wealth to extremes, for instance tips hundred-dollar bills to furniture deliverymen.

Rather than have meaningful personal relationships in her life, Olivia dotes on her dog, a black standard poodle named Captain Haviland. The dog is perfectly trained in both obedience and tracking, and understands Olivia's conversations (oh please).

I waited in vain for character development, to learn how Olivia grew and changed from pitiful orphan to her adult life of luxury, wealth and power. I’m apparently expected to empathize and identify with this arrogant smug rich woman from the briefly described childhood tragedy.

Olivia has superficial master/servant relationships with townspeople who benefit from her largesse, for example the roller-skating dwarf waitress Dixie at Grumpy's Diner, her restaurant chef Michel who is always willing to prepare a gourmet carryout picnic for Olivia at a moment's notice, and local innkeepers Annie and Roy at The Yellow Lady.

When Olivia overhears a book critique group meeting at Grumpy's, she decides not only to join the group, but to renovate her lighthouse to be their new meeting place. She spends a few sad moments in her childhood bedroom, but immediately returns to form (over-tipping the workmen). I don’t feel Olivia reaches out to befriend the group as equals, but rather she revels in a Lady Bountiful role, taking over the group to impress them with her wealth and generosity.

When a new acquaintance is murdered, Olivia clearly feels she is the only person with the intelligence to understand haiku clues left behind by the murderer. Her haughty attitude is revealed by her comment "no fisherman could have written haiku". Later on, she feels that only her poodle is capable of identifying and apprehending the murderer (never mind that the police actually do).

Olivia is not believable as a budding writer. No background or motivation is given for why she is writing a book or how she picked a character and time period - which suggests it means about as much to her as a game of Solitaire. The excerpt from her book is drivel; her book group tactfully suggests she develop the main character.

Olivia's character is apparently meant to develop through interaction with the book group, but I feel Olivia actually maintains a master/servant relationship to book group members as well as townspeople throughout the story. She decides when and where they meet and what they discuss; caters the meetings with her own choices from her restaurant (it's funny when they leave her gourmet offerings uneaten). The wide variety of stereotypes populating the story may be intended to show Olivia becomes tolerant, but as she commands everyone to meet her needs, it's more a matter of treating servants equally.

Olivia's world is threatened when her poodle goes missing. She responds fiercely, in a demonstration of her wealth and power. Sympathetic townspeople rally to help her, and she rewards them amply – with money.

Olivia is briefly startled by her personal reactions a few times – once she appreciates a man’s figure, once she is amazed at the insight of a book club member – but she continues to view those around her as useful servants to meet her needs. She may develop a relationship on an equal footing later in the series; I don't plan to stick with it long enough to find out.
Profile Image for Caryn Zdan.
133 reviews6 followers
January 19, 2020
3.5 stars. I didn’t mind this one but there was a little more description than i cared for. All and all a good cozy mystery.
Profile Image for JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book).
1,219 reviews19 followers
March 15, 2013
Olivia Limoges is a damaged soul. She has returned to Oyster Bay, North Carolina. She is extremely rich, and keeps to herself with only her dog for company. She has few friends, and when one of them encourages her to join a local writers' group, she does so reluctantly when approached by one of the group's members, Cameron. Later, when Cameron is brutally murdered, Olivia takes it upon herself to find the killer.

I had a hard time liking this woman. She lost both her parents in two separate accidents, and was raised by her aloof grandmother. Because of this, she has closed herself off to people. (Since she was nine, I believe she has had plenty of time to recover; many people who have lost both parents do); and uses her money and power to hide behind.

She also does whatever she wants, even going to far as to park in handicapped spots and fire lanes; and refuses to put her dog on a leash. She appears to feel that having money can excuse anything.

She has two men interested in her, but I felt that she was using them for different things. One because she wanted to find out what he knew; and the other because she thought he might have been involved in the murder of her friend.

What I didn't like was the fact that she took her dog everywhere. Everywhere. With a capital E. I like animals a lot, but I don't like the idea of dogs being allowed in establishments that serve food. She even allows her dog to sit in one of the booths, and owner of the restaurant even feeds the dog a plate of food on the table. Ewww. I would never eat at that place. She also is owner of another restaurant, and the dog is allowed to go into the kitchen (where I think her office is off to the side somewhere). I'm pretty sure there are health laws preventing this kind of thing all over the country. Anyway, if North Carolina allows animals (except service animals) in their restaurants and sitting in the booths the patrons sit in, then I don't think I'll ever eat in a restaurant there.

By the end of the book, I still didn't care anything about her. She was closed and aloof, and you didn't know anything about her. I think she was supposed to be like the character in her book - since the others in the writers' group said they didn't know what the character was ever thinking - but even with that, I would have hoped there would be some character development along the way.

On a side note, I wonder who the author's favorite actress is? (Only since she chose Olivia for the protagonist and Haviland for the dog). I wonder if she likes Olivia de Havilland movies? :)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lori.
19 reviews54 followers
June 2, 2010
Welcome to Oyster Bay, North Carolina where the living is easy and murder is on the mind.

Olivia Limoges has returned to the hometown she left as a young girl. She is rich, stunning, suffering from a case of writers block and still a mystery to the locals, and often keeping only the company of her loyal poodle Captain Haviland. She also owns the local five star restaurant and has invested a lot in local properties, becoming landlord to many of the businesses around her. While having breakfast at the local diner she overhears some people talking “book stuff.” Dixie, her friend and waitress explains that they are a group called the Bayside Book Writers and encourages her to join. She hesitates until she speaks with Camden Ford, the apparent leader of the group. She finds him witty, charming and impossible to refuse. Olivia decides that she is going to fix up the lighthouse cottage on her property for their meetings.

It looks like things are improving for Olivia, particularly in the friend department, until people start showing up dead. When one of her new friends winds up dead, with of all things a Haiku poem left next to the body, Olivia and her writer friends know they will do whatever they can to find out who is responsible for the murder. But can they figure it out before more bodies start to fall? Do the murders have to do with the gossip book one of their group members is writing about a well know family, the desire to push through a new housing development no matter what the cost, or something else no one could have possibly anticipated?

A Killer Plot is a fantastic start to a new series. The characters are fun, fresh and a bit on the eccentric side. There is Dixie, the roller skating dwarf waitress, Harris the computer geek who suffers from a serious case of Rosacea, and Millay the bartender, who likes to show up with her hair a different color each time they meet. These are just a few of the fun people you will meet in this charming first book of the Books By The Bay Mystery series. The characters are believable and the author gives the reader great insight into the world of a writer. With new friendships, possible romance(s) and promises of great things to come, A Killer Plot is one book you don’t want to be caught dead missing.
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