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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
“What’s happening in Ville Nouvelle?" In Deadly Black Pearls by Jonni Rich, 54-year-old Emmaline Beard is surprised by the sudden appearance of Carol Powell, a young woman who came to the LeFevre House with an urgent request - to give a package containing black Tahitian pearls to her grandmother. The next day, Emmaline finds Carol dead at the foot of a LeFevre House staircase. Amidst the preparation for a theatrical production, a nuclear waste protest by the locals of Ville Nouvelle, a feud between neighbors, and much more, chaos is slowly descending in the peaceful community. Emmaline and her life-long friend, Byrd Jeffcoat, are determined to find out the truth before more troubles arise.
Deadly Black Pearls blends small-town eccentricity with whodunit crime, colored by the personalities of Ville Nouvelle's residents and a few unwelcome outsiders. Local charms are matched by unexpected danger, resulting in tension and drama. The characters, main and secondary, are rendered well. Emmaline Beard is a resilient woman, braving unexpected problems while trying to keep her historical house tour business afloat. Her relationship with Byrd is wonderful; their amateur sleuthing adding more dark fun and curiosity to the plot. I find Helen Condor, a famous psychic, gives another substantial layer to the mystery. Clues regarding the murders become more imperative as the clock ticks, making the reading more engaging as the story progresses. An enjoyable read, Jonni Rich's Deadly Black Pearls has a subtle classic sleuth style that I love coupled with a wonderful, engaging narrative.