Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea Mass Market Paperback – Feb 6 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Atherton delivers another cheerful cuppa cozy, her 11th to feature U.S. ex-pat Lori Shepherd (after 2005's Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin), who lives with her attorney husband, Bill Willis, and their cricket-playing twin sons, Will and Rob, in the Cotswolds. When Bill begins receiving e-mail death threats from a stalker who signs his revenge-obsessed dispatches "Abaddon" (from the Book of Revelations), Lori, the twins and Reginald (Lori's pink rabbit toy) retreat to the scenic Scottish isle of Erinskil, where they stay as the guests of one of Bill's clients, jovial Sir Percy Pelham, at Dundrillin Castle. The ideal refuge, however, soon becomes a hotbed for intrigue, and Lori's forced to depend more on her own instincts than the advice of the ghostly Aunt Dimity, who communicates through journal entries, to protect her sons' lives as well as her own.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The eleventh Aunt Dimity mystery is testament to the staying power of Atherton's cozier-than-cozy premise: American Lori Shepherd, who lives in an idyllic Midlands cottage with her five-year-old twins and doting husband, communicates with Aunt Dimity, a deceased friend who speaks through a mysterious journal. When Lori stumbles upon a mystery, Aunt Dimity is Holmes to her Watson. This time husband Bill begins receiving death threats, and Lori and the twins are sent to an island off the coast of Scotland, where Lori becomes intrigued by how the islanders afford their affluent lifestyles. Aunt Dimity kibitzes as required. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This time, somebody wants to get even with her husband, Bill by harming Lori and her five-year-old twins, Will and Rob. This person signs himself Abbadon on threatening e-mails sent to Bill's office. There's nothing to do but whisk Lori and the boys away to an island on the west coast of Scotland, to a castle owned by an eccentric family friend.
Two body guards and Aunt Dimity's advice can't keep Abadon from finding the hideout fortress. But he doesn't come before Lori and two English aristocrat friends uncover what might be a dark secret on the island, and the castle's owner, Sir Percy almost turns out to be someone Lori nevvr expected him to be.
Everything comes together in a horrific storm that leads to a thrilling ending befitting any mystery, and a fun ending befitting a story where one of the characters communicates kindly from the Beyond.
For me the most fun of the Aunt Dimity series has been the way Nancy Athwerton creates fun and suspense out of what might in other hands become cliche situations. I think the playful spirit of Aunt Dimity lets this happen. If she can communicate with Lori through a blue journal, then Lori can have a good friend who owns a Scottish castle. The climax can come on a dark and stormy night.
Atherton cleverly adapts the magic of having spirits around to the every day world. The Aunt Dimity series is fantastic without venturing into an altered reality, such as a land of Hobbits, or a school for wizards. This attribute makes the books refreshing. We can be comfortable knowing Lori will come out all right, because the story is playful. We can solve a mystery without a lot of blood and guts. We can have fun with wonderful characters and settings that offer us an enjoyable read.
This one is more laid back than usual as Lori learns about her new environment and the people. She learns to trust the bodyguards ability to protect her and the boys. Then Peter shows up out of the blue with a girlfriend no less.
A wonderful book to get lost in for a day especially if you wish you had an Aunt Dimity to write in a blue journal and help to keep you on the right course of action and even to see the road to take.
The book opens on a tense note, with Bill, Lori Shepherd's lawyer husband, coming home to tell his family that they must vacate their quiet village home because he has received death threats, apparently from a former client. While he works with the local police to figure out who it might be and to stop them, he gets one of their rich friends, Sir Percy, to fly the rest of the family away to a secluded location. It turns out to be an island cut off from most civilization. There, Percy has a castle and has hired two of the best bodyguards he knows (Damian and Andrew) to watch over Lori and the kids. Of course, she takes the Aunt Dimity journal with her, the one where Dimity's ghost communicates with Lori. But there's something strange about the only village on the island, with the residents doing everything in their power to keep tourists at bay. What's the secret behind their activities? And is it as nefarious as it seems?
Aunt Dimity & the Deep Blue Sea has a lot more tension than the earlier book, and I adored it for that reason alone. Unfortunately, this is also a strike against the book, mainly because none of the tension actually builds to anything, except reconfirming Lori's worldview that everybody is nice (except for the man trying to kill her family to take revenge on Bill, of course). Thus, I really enjoyed the book while I was reading it but I was left a little annoyed once I was done. The attempted murder plot almost feels tacked on and the rest of the story, while atmospheric, ultimately shakes down to nothing in particular.
Instead, Atherton gives us an extended tour of the castle and surrounding lands, spending quite a few pages doing this, despite the fact that the book is quite short. Usually, when an author does this, most of the information will be put to good use later in the story, but most of it isn't in this case. It just adds to the atmosphere a little bit while dragging the plot to a halt. This is, however, where we meet Damian and Andrew. Damian becomes the main focus of the plot, as he is Lori's personal bodyguard and she takes it upon herself to get him to lighten up a little bit. He never cracks a smile and he doesn't respond to her little jokes at all. When the mystery of what's going on with the village presents itself (and it does in a very coincidental fashion), Damian finds himself drawn in due to Lori's infectious curiosity.
In fact, the interplay between these two characters is the highlight of the book (along with Aunt Dimity, of course, but more later). I only have two books as a sample, but Atherton seems at her best when she gives Lori a male companion to play off of, whether it's Gabriel in Next of Kin or Damian here. Especially wonderful is the scene when the power goes out and Lori asks him into her room to find out his thoughts on the village. He is stiff as a board and even thinks she might try and seduce him. It's a hilarious scene and Damian's growth throughout the book is great.
It's too bad that none of the other characters even come close to this. All of them have their role to play in the plot and that's about it. The arrival of an old friend is way too coincidental, even as Atherton tries to justify it. Other coincidences abound too, supposedly adding to the tension but then being explained away. The attempted murder plot doesn't interfere with the island mystery except for the interludes provided by Bill's phone calls, which seem to be included in the story more to remind us that there actually is something serious going on than anything else.
Aunt Dimity is a bit more prominent this time around, actually doing something for once (using her unique situation to confirm what a departed spirit is either doing or not doing, but to say more would be spoiling). She's a great character, which can be surprising considering we only know about her through her writing in the journal to Lori. It also adds a bit more substance to her role in the series, as well as confirming some things (which admittedly may already have been confirmed in earlier books). She doesn't know anything about what happens in our world except what Lori tells her, but she can check out what any other dead people are doing (or not doing, if they're not around anymore). Good to know.
Aunt Dimity & the Deep Blue Sea is a much more satisfying book than Next of Kin, despite the way it ends. It's still light as a feather, but at least there appears to be something behind the story this time around. There is a sense of danger occasionally, which is a nice change. While this book certainly won't make me seek out any others, I will certainly read them if they come to me. They're a nice change of pace from having to think much. Just sit back and take a breather while immersing yourself in something kind of fun.
The Aunt Dimity books are about Lori Shepard, an American woman living in an English village in a house that she inherited upon the death of her mother's close friend, Aunt Dimity. Turns out, however, that death isn't quite enough to quench Aunt Dimity's spirit. Her ghost remains with Lori, communicating via a blue-leather-bound notebook, and offering wisdom and guidance to Lori during her adventures.
In this book, Lori and her family are being stalked by a killer, due to some mis-step on the part of Lori's husband, Bill Willis. Bill sends Lori and their five-year-old twin boys away for their own safety, to the Scottish island fortress of their friend, Sir Percy Pelham. Sir Percy is an engaging and good-hearted man who has the additional desirable quality of being incredibly rich. His island castle, Dundrillin, features parapets and gloomy chambers, as well as modern conveniences like deluxe suites, a swimming pool, and a movie theater.
While on the island, Lori naturally runs into a mystery. This one involves the local villagers, a mysterious miniature island that might be haunted, an old monastery that might also be haunted, and a young man visiting the island under a false name. There are also caves and secret treasures. How could anyone resist? It's basically a cool children's book premise, slightly updated to be for grown-ups.
If you haven't read this series, and you like cozies, I highly recommend it. The characters are likable and funny. Lori's character is particularly well-rounded and realistic. She has flaws. She does stupid things sometimes. But she always triumphs. The ghostly Aunt Dimity aspect of the books adds an intriguing quirk, without overpowering any of the stories.
In summary, if you are looking for a quick, fun read that will restore a bit of your faith in humanity, and give you an adventure with castles and ghosts at the same time, check out Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea.
This book review was originally published on my blog, Jen Robinson's Book Page, on April 8, 2006.
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 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.