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Reviewed by Heather Stockard for Readers' Favorite
When the mayor of Sheffield is murdered during a summer festival, one citizen is drawn into a complex investigation. Felice Bowes never liked Greta Sutton and her self-serving ways and made no secret of it. But Felice is shocked by the senselessness and brutality of Greta's death and worried about the effect it will have on the community at large. When the chief of police asks her to discreetly question some of the townspeople, Felice agrees to help. The list of people who might have wanted Greta dead is long, but nothing points to anyone specific. A second murder muddies the waters still further. Felice’s inquiries into the late mayor’s schemes turn up evidence of corruption and treachery, but they may also put a target on her own back if she can’t expose the killer in time.
Jill M. Lyon’s debut novel, The Summer Festival is Murder, is an intricately woven mystery set in coastal Oregon. It is meticulously researched and the investigative procedures are realistic. No instant DNA results here. She expertly captures the realities of small-town politics and life. Her characters are well-drawn and convincing, and their interactions feel natural, especially Felice’s and David’s husband-and-wife dynamic, and Felice and the police chief’s conversations. Felice is a strong female character, and her first-person narration works quite well. The mystery itself keeps you guessing, and the plot is filled with twists and red herrings. If you are looking for a clean (with the exception of a few swear words) and detailed whodunnit, give this one a read.