Margaret Welch – The Grim Reader

It’s Simmering Suspense Week at the Castleton Manor literary retreat in Lighthouse Bay, Massachusetts. Librarian Faith Newberry has her hands full with a week of author talks and signings planned. But when the bejeweled guest of honor, reigning queen of romantic suspense Gloria Bauer, clears out her luxurious suite and disappears without a trace, Faith must scramble to keep the manor’s other guests – and her cranky boss, Marlene Russell – satisfied with one less author.

Charlotte Jaxon, Castleton’s owner, thinks Gloria’s absence is all a stunt. Didn’t Agatha Christie do the same thing decades ago? But when both a ransom note and Gloria’s dog, Sir Arfer Conan Doyle, turn up, Faith quickly realizes the danger could be real. In exchange for Gloria’s safe return, the kidnapper wants not only the stunning diamond necklace the author stowed away in the manor’s safe, he also demands a priceless, one-of-a-kind handmade book from the library’s collection. Is it all a public spectacle, or has something royally dreadful happened to the author?

Despite Charlotte’s wishes, Faith begins to investigate. She can’t help but wonder if Charlotte knows more about the kidnapping than she is letting on. After all, publicity for Gloria is also publicity for Castleton Manor. Meanwhile, the remaining authors don’t seem all that concerned about Gloria being gone. Without her around, their stars will shine brighter than Gloria’s diamonds. And what about the disgruntled fan who seems more than a little obsessed with her favorite author? Any one of them, or the other castle guests, could be behind the plot.

To restore Gloria to safety, Faith will need all the help she can get from her best friends, tuxedo cat Watson, and the trusty members of the Candle House Book Club. But can they find the interloping perpetrator before Gloria’s deposed – permanently?

Author: Margaret Welch
Narrator: Ann Richardson
Duration: 6 hours 9 minutes
Released: 20 May 2002
Publisher: Annies
Language: English

User Review:

tang dapper

Want to spend 7-and-a-half hours listening to the spewings of the gratingly annoying and the loathsomely vile? Why then, “Black & Blue” is for you. After the first book, which had promise, the series has steadily broken that promise into less and less palatable portrayals of, ultimately, indigestible characters.

The title characters, especially Kate, have become dithering, self-absorbed, unconvincing caricatures. So much so that the otherwise excellent narrator has resorted to whispering almost all of Tony’s mush mouth blather, while screeching almost all of Kate’s never ending whining. The most repugnant of the secondary characters are front and center, and the formerly tolerable secondary characters throw neurotic temper tantrums.

Then there are the characters developed specially for this murder non-mystery. The love-interest Texan who personifies the All Hat No Cattle trope. Every one of the female characters is a hollow, grasping, deceitful, clinging shrew straight out of the Misogynist Hall of Horrors. The male characters are cardboard cutouts who are supposed to be Worst Cases of Testosterone Poisoning. The murder non-mystery is a thin subplot. The book really should be re-titled “The Anguish That Lord & Lady Hetheridge Suffer at Home and At Work” to do it justice.