Jody Holford is a new-to-me cozy author, and she hits all the right notes in her Britton Bay Mystery Deadly News, the debut novel in a new series. The tiny Britton Bay Bulletin on the Oregon coast gets a new leader when Molly Owens, fresh from California, is hired to serve as editor. Only twenty-eight, Molly gets a few wary glances from the older and sometimes more jaded members of the staff, but she’s got a thick skin and a determination to help turn around the struggling newspaper.
Molly gets along well with Alan, the publisher who hired her; Elizabeth, a fifty-something staff writer; Hannah, the high school intern; and even Clay, the part-time photog who’s sending out a bit of a creepy vibe. Only one member of the staff seems bent on making her life miserable, and that’s Vernon, the gray-haired crank who dismisses her and has no interest in improving either his writing or himself. When pushed too far, Molly finally calls Vernon into her office for a personal meeting and insists he get rid of the chip on his shoulder and improve his writing and interview techniques. Cranky Vernon doesn’t get much of a chance to work on the improvements, though, since he’s soon discovered dead at his home. Meanwhile, the non-welcome wagon is sending Molly a message by letting the air out of her Jeep’s tires and painting “Leave!” on the side, so clearly Vernon wasn’t the only one who had it in for her.
The author does a fine job of giving us lots of suspects who easily could have wanted Vernon out of the picture. And one of the nicest surprises in this well-written book is that Molly is involved in a sweet, wholesome romance that doesn’t come across as too silly or too sexy. There’s also a wonderful sense of place in Britton Bay, from its eateries to the bed-and-breakfast whose owner lets Molly rent her cottage out back. Holford delivers a great introduction to the Britton Bay mysteries, and if she keeps it up, I’ll be coming back for lots of repeat visits.
Review copy courtesy of NetGalley