Body on the Island is the second book in Victoria Dowd’s Smart Woman’s Mystery series.
Having read Victoria Dowd’s debut novel (and the first in this series) The Smart Woman’s Guide to Murder, I was eagerly waiting for book #2. If Christie, Dickson Carr, Bellairs and others were some of the famous mystery authors of yesteryears, we have Victoria Dowd as the new and must-read author of modern times.
Let’s meet the characters first. We have Ursula Smart, our protagonist. She’s in her twenties and struggling to move ahead in life. She lives with her mother, Pandora (Ahem!). Ursula’s father passed away a decade ago (when Ursula was 13) but she still misses him. Mirabelle is Pandora’s best friend (and a staunch supporter of ‘Boo Ursula”) and Aunt Charlotte (Pandora’s elder sister). The ladies were a part of the book club and their first adventure ended up with being stranded in an isolated house during a snow storm – with a killer in their midst.
Oh yes, we also have Bridget and her dog, Mr Bojingles. Bridget might be a pain in the backside (not as bad as Mirabelle) but she’s good at observing things… and people.
After their previous adventure, Ursula has decided to enroll the book club members (Bridget excluded) for a Survival course. But a weekend of gentle foraging and camping goes awfully sideways when their boat sinks in a storm and they are stranded on an island – with a murderer in their midst. Starvation, cold and bodies dropping like flies, the Slaughter-House Five (as the media calls them) are up for another ‘adventure of a lifetime’.
What a fantastic, fantabulous, mind-blowing, engrossing page-turner. Victoria Dowd is a master storyteller. The suspense is well-maintained throughout and I was hooked on to the story until the end. We also have a dash or two of dark humor and this makes the story even better (or should I say, best-er?)
The identity of the killer was a HUGE shocker. I never saw it coming. When their identity is revealed, I was like, WHAT? WHO? HOW? As the bodies start to drop, the Slaughter-House Five realize they have a murderer in their midst. With no food or any means to call for help/rescue, the ladies have to catch the killer red-handed before it is too late.
I don’t think I can choose a favorite character. As much as I like Ursula, mama Pandora is not bad either. Not to forget Aunt Charlotte, who is a synonym for quirky. (No, not cray cray!) Mirabelle and Bridget might be annoying but without them, the story would definitely seem boring.
Smart Woman’s guide to writing a murder mystery: #1 – Always include pain-the-backside characters; #2 – quirky, wacko characters (not as same as #1); #3 – throw the characters (not literally) in an isolated place – along with a murderer; #4 – include lots of dead bodies (oh-hum!); #5 – a splash of dark humor goes a long way; #6 – suspense, red herrings, family drama (repeat if necessary). Or, forget all this and read The Body on an Island because nobody writes murder mysteries as good as Victoria Dowd. 😀
I cannot stop gushing about this book! It goes without saying that I highly recommend you to read The Body on the Island by Victoria Dowd. Go on, chop chop, grab a copy today!
Many thanks to the lovely Victoria Dowd and Joffe Books for the ARC.