This book actually ties in neatly to one of the previous entries in this series, the Ashton Corner’s Book Club by Erika Chase. Much like Erika Chase’s series, the Books by the Bay series revolves around a group of book enthusiasts, though in this case it is a writer’s group instead of a reading group. I do find it interesting that none of the initial writers are necessarily writers of mystery fiction. Most books revolving around a literary theme such as a writer’s club, reader’s club, or library or book store type setting tend to revolve around mystery fiction, but the Bayside Book Writer’s Club instead has a wide variety of would-be authors, including diverse interests such as romance, science fiction, and Olivia (the sleuth of the series) own interest, historical fiction.
As is inevitable in Cozy mysteries, whenever more than three people gather, murder is sure to follow, and it isn’t long before the leader of the writer’s club turns up dead. New group member Olivia Limoges, touched by the charmer (the victim) and offended by the murder, decides to get to the bottom of the case.
One thing I definitely like about this series is that Olivia isn’t too similar to what you would think of as a standard modern Cozy sleuth. Many modern Cozy sleuths are either small business owners of food industry like bakeries or hobby shops catering to something like knitting, while others work in a very Cozy-friendly environment like a library. While these are good ways to hook a series into a given “theme” through the protagonist’s work, after a while they can sometimes seem a bit similar. In contrast, Olivia is independently wealthy, as her family has had significant means and influence in the town she lives in for some time. This also helps lend a certain amount of realism to certain elements of a Cozy that sometimes feel a bit questionable – namely, how does the owner of a small business also find time to continuously solve mysteries? It sure must be easier if you are wealthy enough to not worry about working a regular job!
(As someone who recently adopted a dog, I’ll admit I also particularly enjoyed Olivia’s interactions with her four-legged companion, Captain Haviland, her well-trained standard poodle. I’ll admit our little Cocoa isn’t at all as well-trained as Captain Haviland, but she is still a puppy after all!)
If you’re looking for a modern Cozy series with a non-standard protagonist, there’s a lot to recommend in the Books by the Bay Mystery Series. Ellery Adams also writes a number of other popular series that are at the top of a lot of our favorite Cozies lists; she’s also the author of the Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery Series, the Book Retreat Mystery Series, the Supper Club Mystery Series, the Antiques & Collectibles Mystery Series, and the Hope Street Church Mystery Series. (She sure does keep busy!)
If you’re interested in reading more of these brief revisits of some of the more popular Cozy Mystery Series that I’ve written in the past, you can find them at the Most Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my site.