Book review: “Deadly News” by Jody Holford

Deadly NewsJody 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

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About “The Writer’s Junk Drawer”

Welcome to The Writer’s Junk Drawer! It simply came to me one day, this idea that every writer should have a writer’s junk drawer. I don’t mean a literal junk drawer, although most of us probably have one of those as well, but a figurative junk drawer. It’s the place where we store all that stuff that doesn’t quite have a home anywhere else.

What’s currently rattling around in this writer’s mental junk drawer? The last three books I read (and the three I’m currently reading), that thoughtful article on grammar that a former colleague shared on Facebook, the inspiring Debbie Macomber interview in the January 2017 issue of Writer’s Digest, those helpful planning pages my critique partner designed and emailed to me, and my new subscription to a copyediting newsletter I can’t wait to read because, well, I’m a word geek.

So who am I, and why should you care what I have to say about the writing life? I have been writing professionally for 30-plus years, first as a newspaper reporter and editor, then later as a magazine editor. Nearly ten years ago, I began blogging about tea and teatime, and I discovered a new audience for my writing, women across the whole country (and quite a few outside the US) who kindly let me know they were interested in what I had to say. I’ve written two books on teatime, projects that were great fun, and last year I finished writing two cozy mysteries and started on a third. I’m happy to report that I’m wrapping up edits on that first cozy and soon will be submitting it to a publisher.

Nearly four years ago, I launched my own freelance writing and editing business. I provide PR and marketing support to some local nonprofits and businesses, and I’m also under contract with Red Adept Editing as a copy editor and line editor. I thought I knew a lot about grammar and punctuation until I decided to learn to edit fiction. I’ve learned so much along the way, I am eager to share writing tips and tools with anyone with an appetite to learn.

Because almost everything I do revolves around writing (and did I mention that I’m married to a writer?), the writing life is never far from my thoughts. This blog, then, is my attempt at bringing order to the writerly thoughts and theories I’m forever collecting. I plan to publish new blog posts each week on Tuesday and Thursday. Some days you may find a quote here, and other days I may simply be discussing a thought-provoking piece I’ve read. Feel free to nose around all you like. And please know that I won’t mind a bit if you decide to stash a thought of your own here in my junk drawer!