Retro Reading: I Scream, You Scream by Wendy Lyn Watson
Everyone Screams at this Ice Cream Social
Have you ever wondered what it'd be like if you were the prime suspect in a murder? In today's society everyone accuses the spouse right away and in the novel I Scream, You Scream it's not the spouse, but the ex-spouse.
When Wayne Jones hires his ex-wife to provide the dessert for his annual company picnic it's up to Tallulah "Tally" Jones to clear her name after her husband's girlfriend winds up dead.
Author Wendy Lyn Watson has created a really unique mystery in which Tally has to try and prove her innocence. Through the amateur detective's sleuthing, Watson hits on some topical points regarding today's society.
When the body of Brittanie Brinkman is found the morning after Wayne's big luau, the folks of Dalliance, TX start pointing fingers in Tally's direction. As the proprietor of Remember the A-la-mode the profits aren't there but soon after the murder business starts to pick up. Mainly since the curious want to see Tally up close so they can jump to their own conclusion.
But in the days before the luau, Tally's past comes back to haunt her in the form of former high school boyfriend, Finn Harper. When the two broke up twenty years earlier Finn left Texas and headed for Minneapolis (kind of like Rhoda Morgenstern) and found himself as a journalist.
While Tally tries to put things in perspective regarding Brittanie's murder, she realizes that the dead girl wasn't as popular as many believed. Brittanie had a laundry list of enemies and whatever she went out for she always managed to get it causing many to hate her.
The one thing Tally finds out is Brittanie's bulimic, which is a subject no other author has touched upon in a mystery. Watson may be the first to have broached the subject since early on we learn that Brittanie hardly eats and when Tally uses a free weeks gym membership to learn more about Brittanie, she discovers that the twenty something girl spent a lot of time working out. So Watson has brought two subjects to the forefront. Bulimia and the compulsion of over exercising. Two subjects rarely talked about and which many are in denial of.
With each passing day Tally finds herself in more trouble as the evidence begins to point in her direction. A tip from the caterer at the luau, Deena Silver, tells Tally that whenever she has special requests from a client she separates the food, something Tally does since Wayne has food allergies. As luck would have it his specially marked cups of ice cream have traces of antifreeze in them.
Tally's sixteen year old niece, Alice, a college freshman, begins to tell her about the breakdown of antifreeze in the body and how it would have affected Wayne and Brittanie. Of course the cops don't buy the explanation, but then again Tally believes that it's Wayne's competitor, Eddie Collins who could be the prime suspect.
One night Tally's cousin, Bree, talks her and Finn into going to karaoke night with her since Eddie's sister and brother-in-law are regulars but Tally really doesn't learn too much since the couple's having one of their many daily spats. So she and her crew head over to Wayne's office to do a little digging around.
Before opening Remember the A-la-mode Tally worked with Wayne and luckily still has a key to the building. She lets the two know that after pretending to be a potential customer for Eddie that he's being blackmailed and that was why he was at the luau.
The three are busted when Wayne shows up, but Tally does find an interesting file that Wayne has no idea of.
When Tally finds out that she's been indicted for Brittanie's murder, she doesn't know what to do and weighs her options while taking a moonlit swim with Finn. Suddenly she doesn't begin to trust him and rushes out of the yard "buck naked" as they'd say in Texas.
That's about all that I can reveal at this point but Watson has started a great new series with the a-la mode mysteries and some memorable characters as well, with cousin Bree really being the standout character here.
The only problem with the book is it includes ice cream recipes but really not a lot of them so if you do make your own ice cream you may find them to be tasty.