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Death, Island Style (Five Star Mystery Series) Hardcover – February 15, 2012
"an exciting whodunit" - Publishers Weekly
"Toussaint creates a gutsy heroine whose struggles with murder and romance add up to a very enjoyable read" - Kirkus Reviews
"Eccentric and fun, this book is definitely worth a read" - Romantic Times
"Toussaint's feel-good stand-alone flies by as her initially wimpy heroine develops a backbone and comes out a winner on all fronts. Nice regional flair." - Library Journal
"This book has mystery, suspense, some romance, and a touch of daring all from our leading woman, MaryBeth!" -The Reading Reviewer --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From the Author
Oh what fun it is to write about Christmas shops! Every beach vacation I ever took seemed to involve a visit to one of those special shops with decorations of every persuasion! I'm quite fond of the Savannah Santas made from oyster shells, the angels made from scallop shells. Can you see the trend here?
Death, Island Style merged two of my favorite activities, being at the beach and enjoying all things Christmas. If barking dog Christmas songs, as well as reverent hymns of Christmas, are in your wheelhouse, you will enjoy this fun caper.
Poor MaryBeth. She's in so much trouble. Not only is she searching for a new identity, the cops think she ditched her old life on purpose. But she doesn't let that get her down, boldly plunging into owning a Christmas shop and taking on a class of elementary arts and crafts students.
And Russ. Ummm. Many people have asked about the mysterious pharmacist. He's mysterious for a reason! "Nuff said! --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Ms. Toussaint keeps you in suspense while the plot twists & turns. Is her husband dead or alive? Who keeps making strange phone calls to her saying nothing? Why does someone break into & trash her house & shop? And most importantly, how does a woman who for the last 10 years who has been completely dominated by her husband survive on her own? Helping Marybeth through these emotional & physical hard times are her next door neighbor, Daisy Pearl (mother to 24 children) & the hunky pharmacist,Russ.
This is one book I could not put down. I highly recommend this book to all.
The author’s love of the ocean reeled me in. I was right there on the beach in the opening chapter, along with its shells, waves and tidal patterns. In the same way the tide rolls in and out, so too do the phases of our lives.
What more perfect place for MaryBeth to reflect on her dysfunctional and broken life?
MaryBeth Cashour’s theme of abandonment is evident in every aspect of her life. She is vulnerable and fragile when she arrives at Sandy Shores Island, deeply flawed with her self-confidence in the bucket. I want to be her friend, hug her and assure her everything will be fine.
She’s honest to a fault, with herself and everyone else. She could lie, but won’t. Her innocence and honesty are endearing qualities.
MaryBeth bought Christmas by the Sea – a craft-store – because it was her mom’s dream. She never had a dream of her own. The locals call her Mary Christmas… how endearing is that? As MaryBeth finds inner strength, she identifies with her store.
The secondary characters are amazing. Daisy Pearl Washington just about needs her own book. This woman represents the cornucopia of plenty; the wise, loving goddess, always there for those she takes under her wing, like a lighthouse in a storm. Gabby the barber is a magical man. The kids in the craft class are hilarious.
There is some deep wisdom on these pages, but not in a preachy way. A woman who obeyed her husband and always tried to please him must sink or swim (no pun intended) as she struggles to figure out who she is and where she fits. Each time the rug is pulled out from beneath her feet, MaryBeth explores her newfound independence.
Some of my favorite lines…“My footprints were transitory, just like me.” And, “Oh, that I could drift through life again.” How many of us haven’t felt this way? When our carefree lifestyle shifts to one filled with challenges, we yearn for the times when ignorance was bliss.
Russ Marchone is the hot hero, a guy who misses nothing. I like the way he plays out.
The author’s ability to blend humor and necessity to conjure a vivid image in the reader’s mind is evident in such simple lines as, “I had a frozen dinner at home just begging to be nuked.”
What a refreshing story this is. It reminds us that we can’t change our past but we are the authors of our future.
However, MaryBeth has little time to settle in. Strolling on the beach, she discovers a dead body. She is questioned closely by the police, who make it clear they are not convinced that her husband's drowning was an accident--or even that he drowned at all (his body was never recovered). And what keeps happening at MaryBeth's house and shop? She endures break-ins, silent phone calls, missing cheques from her cheque book and worse.
Deftly and surely, author Maggie Toussaint shows us, in MaryBeth's own words, how controlling her husband was and how limited MaryBeth's world really was. We also see that Bernie, her possibly dead, possibly missing husband, left her with no savings and in financial trouble. As "Death, Island Style" progresses, we learn that he is less than a decent guy - a long way from a decent guy, in fact. In contrast, MaryBeth grows through the novel from a nervous widow who is used to waiting for a man to take over to a woman who seizes her own destiny and who thwarts danger. Her journey is realistic and heart-felt and told with flair and humour.
Maggie Toussaint has some snappy, amusing terns of phrase - "Shawn the sperminator" - and some wry, amusing scenes. In one, for example, MaryBeth is questioned by detectives in her Christmas Shop, with some unusual background Christmas music. Maggie Touissant also draws rich, ripe characters. There is Gabby the hairdresser, who sees and listens to people's hair, there is Daisy Pearl, mother of twenty-three children, who becomes a kind of honory mother to Marybeth, and most of all there is the Grim Pharmacist, Russ, a laconic, sexy ex-marine who comes to mean far more to MaryBeth than just a neighbour. Through the story, the romantic tension between these two fairly crackles and their thawing toward each other is a joy to read.
The mystery is equally excellent, with enough strange events, incidents and clues to intrigue. MaryBeth must deal with so much and with so many secrets. She does so with grit, good humour and courage. Prickly and shy together, she starts as lacking confidence and grows into the woman she truly is. I was cheering her on by the end.
The Christmas Shop is lovely, too, a perfect setting. Very unusual.
If you are looking for an engaging, exciting cozy mystery, try "Death Island Style."