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    Review of AUNT DIMITY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by Nancy Atherton (see her website)

    Viking, February 2006

    When her husband receives death threats from an apparently angry client, Lori Shepherd and her twin sons are packed into a helicopter and whisked from England to an island off the Scotland coast. There, with family friend Sir Percy Pelham, and with a couple of bodyguards Pelhan provides, Lori hopes to remain safe--and to protect her children. Surely there is no way the mysterious "Abaddon" could follow them here. Even if he learned where they were hiding, he would have a hard time reaching the island, and a harder time doing it secretly. It seems that the islanders, wishing to prevent developers from ruining their island paradise, have cut off most contact with the outside world. Any strangers are closely observed.

    The first night on the island, Lori observes mysterious lights on a nearby rock formation--a formation claimed by the locals to be both cursed and haunted. Could it be that the ghost of a long-dead monk still haunts the rock? Or is it more likely that Abaddon has somehow managed to cross the distance? With the assistance of her notebook, which contains the ghost of a spirit named Aunt Dimity, Lori hopes to address at least the question of lingering spirits. Gradually, though, and with the help of an old family friend, she begins seeing cracks in the too-perfect life of the islanders. Everyone lives comfortably, with the latest conveniences. Yet they distain tourism and the handcrafted tweed industry, said to be the basis of their wealth, simply couldn't generate the level of wealth enjoyed by the locals.

    With the help of Aunt Dimity, and a sexy bodyguard, Lori attempts to unravel the mystery of the too-rich island, while simultaneously attempting to ensure that her children remain safe.

    Author Nancy Atherton (see more reviews of mysteries by Atherton) spins an enjoyable mystery. Lori makes a sympathetic sleuth, with the threat from Abaddon combining with the mysterious nature of the island's wealth combining to create interest. The notebook that is Aunt Dimity serves more as a sounding board for Lori's musings than as a major character, but then, most mystery readers would want Lori to solve the mysteries rather than being given the answer by a book.

    Mystery traditionalists may object that Lori doesn't actually solve either mystery herself. One she has explained to her and the other leads to a bit of deus ex machina, but Atherton's engaging writing makes the reading worthwhile. I did think that Lori's crime rankings (drugs are bad, despoiling archeological remains and avoiding income taxes are okay) were a bit convenient. Surely a person as inately good as Lori would have more concerns about any type of illegal activity--especially as even morally justified illegal activities tend to create the need for other, more violent, crimes.

    If you're looking for a quick light mystery, AUNT DIMITY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA might just be the story for you.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 7/15/06

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    What do you think? Too generous? Too stingy? Or did I miss the entire point? Send your comments to Give me the okay to use your name and I'll publish all the comments that fit (and don't use unprintable language).

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