Book Review: Independence Slay by Shelley Freydont
Murder Runs High This Fourth of July
It's the Fourth of July and Celebration Bay's event coordinator, Olivia "Liv" Montgomery and her faithful assistant, Ted, are hard at work finalizing details for the town's biggest celebration of the year.
Well, that's the intention anyway. Plus with a big celebration someone is bound to end up dead in this small tourist town.
Before the annual fireworks display, the town stages a Revolutionary War reenactment on the grounds of the Gallantine Estate. Every year, Henry Gallantine appears on the top of the mansion giving the signal for the festivities to begin. However, instead of the traditional signal, an SOS is sent instead.
Liv and Ted race up to the roof and find the body of Henry's gardner, Jacob Rundle and a cowering Leo Morgan holding a musket and bayonet. The only thing the two can get out of Leo is that the ghost is going to get him.
With Leo as the main suspect, the town bullies begin to taught and frighten him. They insist the ghost of the original Henry Gallantine will be coming after Leo.
As these events occur, Liv begins to wonder where newspaper editor, Chaz Bristow is since he's a friend of the mentally challenged teen. After a seven week absence, Chaz pops up and Liv fills him in on the latest murder.
Also missing is the live Henry Gallantine. He wasn't seen at the fireworks and everyone fears he's dead since he vanished into thin air. His housekeeper hasn't heard from him and there's a strange fellow telling everyone that he'll be purchasing the mansion soon and turning it into a museum.
I'm not sure if author Shelley Freydont wants readers to visit or stay away from Celebration Bay. Generally by the third installment of a series you have a sense whether you want to continue reading or leave it (but sometimes the critical third novel can turn a series around) and unfortunately, I haven't found a reason to continue on this journey.
Freydont made a critical mistake with this installment when it comes to characters. She mentions "Charlie" once in reference to another character, then has Henry's housekeeper call Chaz "Charlie" later on when she scolds him. Henry's nephew is named Frank, but in the second installment the character of Mr. Salvatini also shares this name. I'm mentioning this because it could cause confusion for the reader.
I think Freydont really misses the point of this series. Since Liv is an event coordinator it would have been great to have mysteries revolving other holidays- Valentine's Day, Easter, Memorial Day, etc. since Liv hasn't been in town for a year. These little holidays could have made for some good stories.
Unfortunately, this series just falls flat. There are too many characters, very long chapters with repeated information and a main character that I don't find likeable. Maybe this is why my mind tended to wander which it did.