I warned you that I was picking up the next one in the series to see if I was right about the foreshadowing.
And without spoiling too much: I was and I wasn’t. That particular plot involved Jemmy, Jacobia’s old partner-in-”crime” who has been in hiding from the mob since book one. It has always been a B-plot and remains so in this book, which I found disappointing. I enjoy Jemmy when he makes the rare appearance and would love to have seen this character fleshed out even more - not to mention the insight we get into Jake’s previous life as a slightly shady investment tycoon. Luckily, there are several more books just waiting to be read and maybe he’ll pop back up now and again.
Graves doesn’t waste any time mucking about with catching the reader up on what happened between the last book and this one - by page two you know that Ellie is pregnant (I know - that’s a spoiler, but it’s page two. I promise not to spoil anything else.) The historical society is restoring a house that was once in the possession of Ellie’s family, but hasn’t been for at least a generation and is now falling apart. Ellie and Jake, perpetually curious, have found a hidden room and not one, but two dead bodies. One of them is very fresh and is the much-reviled president of the Historical Society, and the other appears to have been killed in the twenties right before the room was sealed off.
The most unfortunate part of all of this is that said Historical Society President is discovered dead mere days after Ellie’s husband, George, was seen by more than half the town in a local bar, drunkenly ranting about how much he’d like to see the other man dead. Apparently this puts George at the top of a long list of possible suspects, but his refusal to give an alibi coupled with the fact that Bob Arnold (our beloved local law enforcement) is out of town lands George in the clink.
As I read through the book (one which I could not put down) I was struck time and time again by how much improved Graves’s writing has become. She hasn’t lost her voice, by any means. But her prose is tighter, her plots layered and interesting enough that - while you may have an inkling - you never quite know if what you suspect will turn out to be the way it happened. Also, because she knows her characters as well as most people know their close friends and family, their actions become more fluid and when they drop in and out of the story it’s with an ease that only comes from years of familiarity (both in real life and on the page.)
Have I mentioned how glad I am that I am so far behind? If you’re just picking these up (start with Dead Cat Bounce, please and go from there) I am jealous that you are getting to read them for the first time.