Dead, Bath, and Beyond
Lorraine Bartlett  Laurie Cass   

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Victoria Square Mystery
Book: 4

The New York Times bestselling series is back, as Katie Bonner--owner of Artisans Alley in the quaint shopping district of Victoria Square--attempts to solve a murder at a nearby B & B.

Katie Bonner feels like nothing can spoil her perfect day off, sailing Lake Ontario with her good friend, lawyer Seth Lander. Then she runs into her ex-boss Jake on the dock. It was never smooth sailing with Jake, and Katie is only too happy to get away from him as he makes a scene.

Unfortunately, the next day her unpleasant former employer is found drowned in a bathtub at a bed and breakfast in Victoria Square. Who would pull the plug on Jake? When an autopsy reveals lake water--not bath water--in his lungs, Katie quickly finds herself in over her head. She'll need to race to find the killer before her business and her freedom both go down the drain...

Katie Bonner has a busy life running Artisans Alley, a warehouse that has been converted into an arts and crafts mall and now the cornerstone of the shopping district of Victoria Square. Katie enjoys a well-deserved day-off sailing on Lake Ontario with one of her best friends, Seth Landers. The only flaw in an otherwise great day is running into her ex-boss Josh Kimper. Katie doesn’t care for Josh, but she is still shocked the next day when Josh is found drowned in the bathtub of a Victoria Square Bed and Breakfast, the two owners Nick Farrell and Don Parsons become suspects. However, Katie knows Josh had plenty of enemies all over town and is determined to find out who really killed Josh so her friends Nick and Don don’t take the fall for a crime they didn’t commit.

This is the first book in the Victoria Square Mystery series that has been published in almost four years. Author Lorraine Bartlett, who also writes the Booktown mysteries under pen name Lorna Barrett, has collaborated with Laurie Cass (author of the Bookmobile Cat Mysteries) for this latest installment. Fans of the series don’t have to worry about the plot or characters suffering from this collaboration. The writing style and characters are the same as in previous Victoria Square mysteries and the book is just as enjoyable. In fact, I think Katie has matured since some of the earlier books and it actually more likeable now. Katie has finally gotten over feeling sorry for herself for her late husband using the funds they had saved to start a bed and breakfast to purchase Artisans Alley. Katie has turned this struggling craft mall around and now takes pride in making the new business a success.

Katie has a natural curiosity and perseverance that make her a successful amateur detective. Her thorough questioning of witnesses and potential suspects is interesting, even when her questions make people angry and her choices put her in danger. The weakest link in this series is Katie’s relationship with pizzeria owner Andy Rust. Andy is a very hard worker and is usually nice, but his personality is flat and there just don’t seem to be any sparks with Katie. Now that Katie is happier, which makes the book more fun to read, I hope there are more books coming in this series. If there are, I also hope something is done to make Katie and Andy’s relationship more interesting or Katie finds someone else with whom she has more chemistry. Fans of this series or of the Booktown mysteries will enjoy Dead, Bath, and Beyond.

~ Christine