Some years ago my husband and I lived in Key West, Florida. I remember when he went out “goostering”, the local term for fishing for Florida Keys Langostino. He was very successful, bringing home a container filled with the creatures which he proceeded to clean in the kitchen. Up until that moment, I had no idea what lobster smelled like, having only had it cooked and served in restaurants. Needless to say, I was not impressed. So, when I started reading DRAWN AND BUTTERED by Shari Randall, I had a vivid picture in my mind when she referred to the smell of the lobster that is central to this story. “Lobzilla” as he is nicknamed in this story is the opposite of a Langostino in that he is huge and the Langostino are really small, more crab-like in size. Of course, the lobster’s smell is not really central to the story, other than to add some additional sensory references to the tale. My review of the book follows; I’ll save my review of lobster for another time.
DRAWN AND BUTTERED is the third book in the Lobster Shack Mystery Series featuring Allie, who narrates the story and supporting cast including Aunt Gully, Lobster Shack owner and a host of friends and shack employees who populate the book. The characters are all well drawn, and range from the eccentric and lovable Aunt Gully to Lorel, short for Lorelei, Allie’s sister who is a hard charging business woman intent on making more money for Aunt Gully and family. Allie and Lorel are almost polar opposites, with Allie being the artistic sister, a ballerina who is currently on medical leave while a broken ankle heals and Lorel owning her own advertising firm.
While Allie’s ankle is healing she has returned to Mystic Cove to live with Aunt Gully who had a hand in raising the girls. Lorel makes a few visits in this book, primarily to try and push her agenda for Aunt Gully to sell her chowder recipe to a nationwide conglomerate. This side story provides some interesting contrast between the sisters and serves to highlight Aunt Gully’s love for what she does which results in rounding out the story to be more than just a murder mystery.
The mystery itself centers around the murder of a college student whose body is found in a family cemetery, known for their own version of ghosts and vampire stories. They are the family that founded Mystic Cove and, as such, have a vested interest in protecting the family name and legacy. That legacy is highlighted in a grant competition that sees the winner taking home the prize because his proposal will advance the history and legacy of the family.
The story has similarities to other tales of hauntings, witches, etc. which give add to the atmosphere of halloween leading up to the murder. There are a local witch and a local fortune teller who flesh out the other-world portion of the book. While the book is in no way supernatural, the atmosphere is still well defined.
While this book is part of a continuing series, the mystery is complete within itself. There are some relationships that may have developed over the previous books, and Ms. Randall does a good job of filling in details that may be carried over from previous books. This is true, also, of the ongoing storyline of Allie’s recovery which serves to explain her presence in Mystic Cove.
The mystery is well plotted and even though there are several potential suspects, it was easy to determine the guilty person. The clues were well placed, and perhaps a bit obvious in spots, which led to an easier solution but did not hamper the enjoyment of the story. The continuing storyline of Allie’s broken ankle is brought to a satisfactory conclusion, leaving the reader to wonder if and how the series may continue.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries. It has all the elements of a good mystery, interesting characters, and a limited amount of blood, guts and gore. It is easy to accept Allie’s determination to solve the mystery, and there is an even amount of tension that has you reading at a steady pace. At the same time, you can put it down to attend to other things and pick it up again without losing the strings of the story.