The Final Mystery Now that small-town reporter Peter Fontaine has gotten hitched to the man of his dreams, he thinks his days of solving crimes are over. But after a decades-old secret is revealed, a dead body is found and Peter’s husband Nick is at the top of the suspect list. Peter must harness his power of ultimate nosiness to find one last killer.
Dear Nicole Kimberling,
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the final story in the Bellingham mysteries was out on Amazon. I actually don’t know whether this is a final book or not, I am just speculating based on the book being named “the final mystery”.
Sunita reviewed some of the previous stories here at DA. I actually hesitated for a minute or two before buying this one because I thought that the book 5 left our heroes in a very good place. Of course my hesitation was short lived and I was glad that I read this one. The very beginning of the story shows very well why I like your writing so much.
“Though it might seem paradoxical, for the normal inhabitant of the Pacific Northwest the only thing worse than months of gray cloud-cover and endless light drizzle is month after month of blue skies and relentless sunshine. Peter Fontaine, small-town reporter and big-time busybody, was no exception to this rule. A sunny day, he felt, should be a rare and beautiful event when one rushed, squinting, into the brightness to revel and luxuriate in warmth and vitamin D production. It should be, itself, cause for celebration. But this year? This year the sun had shown up like an unwanted houseguest in mid-April and hung around for four months, endlessly staring down on Bellingham as if to ask, “So, what are we up to today, bro?”
So three years passed since Peter and Nick got married in the last book. Early in this story a very unpleasant fellow journalist called Sam visits Peter and asks his permission to check out certain paintings in Peter and Nick’s home. Peter allows it, although soon it becomes clear that Sam is a sleaze ball and moreover, Nick knows Sam well enough to violently throw Sam out and without saying a word to Peter as to why he would do that.
Understandably Peter goes and gets drunk enough so Nick has to get him and bring him home. Next day (I think it was next day) Peter decides to go to the hotel where Sam was staying (Sam told him what hotel it was earlier) to return his phone which Nick grabbed from Sam and sort of smashed it because Sam was taking pictures of the paintings Nick did not want to be photographed. When Peter comes to the hotel and asks where to find Sam he learns that he already received two visitors earlier and one of those visitors was Nick.
You can probably guess that when Peter comes into Sam’s room he finds Sam already being dead. Of course Peter’s first thought that Nick may have killed him, but soon enough he realizes he does not want to believe in it.
And boy was I proud of Peter’s next actions. He called Nick of course to tell him about Sam’s death with Nick being very confused when Peter tried to hint what happened, but then he also called the police pretty much right away. And he did not *hide* anything he knew from the police when police came. Yes, it is possible to write the mystery about civilian sleuth and make civilian sleuth not look like a total idiot and these series would be a good example for me to point to if people would ask for one.
Granted, Peter made his fair share of mistakes in the previous books, but it is clear that he learned from them and grew as a person. Of course, these books have civilian sleuth as a main character, so Peter decides to do some investigating again, mostly because his husband appears to be involved if not in the murder then in whatever secret Sam tried to find out about him. But he just plain out enjoys investigations I think and the fact that he is an investigative journalist by trade made it even easier for me to suspend the disbelief about Peter sleuthing.
So why I decided that Peter learned from his mistakes and grew as a person? Well, besides him saying so (and I agree with him), he for example asks his husband to go with him to interrogate the witness when he knows it could be dangerous to go there alone.
"Nick regarded Peter for a long moment. Then he gently put his hand on Peter’s shoulder and said, “Just to be sure, are you suggesting that you and I should go find and attempt to interrogate a violent pimp in a meth motel? And that we should do this when there are perfectly good police who we pay do perform dangerous tasks such as that?” “When you put it like that it sounds foolhardy.” Peter leaned over and kissed Nick’s big hand. “But it’s not like it’s the middle of the night. By the time we’d get there it would be like eight in the morning. And it’s really sunny.” “I don’t think the weather is relevant. He’s a professional criminal, not a vampire,” Nick remarked.”
I cheered when I read this – I certainly may understand Peter’s reluctance to involve the police in the middle of investigation when they decided that Nick is a primary suspect, but I would not have understand in the slightest if he desired to rush into danger alone. I would have also thought that this was getting old by now.
I thought Nick and Peter were solid in this book despite them being angry at each other in the beginning – I thought Nick had a perfectly good reason in his head to not tell Peter why he wanted nothing to do with Sam, but I also thought that realizing that being quiet won’t really help now was well done.
I also thought that some of their interactions were hilarious even if it concerned some life and death stuff, or stuff they thought could be related to life and death.
"What is it?” Peter asked. “You have the weirdest expression on your face,” Nick remarked. “Were you having some kind of daydream?” “No, I was thinking that if you’ve killed Sam, I wouldn’t turn you in.” A shocked expression of surprise crossed Nick’s face; then he said, “Lucky for Justice, I didn’t.” “So where did you get that black eye, anyway?” Peter tried to ask this casually, as if there were no connection to the conversation they were having. Nick paused, smirked, and actually laughed out loud. “Are you kidding?” “No, I’m not.” “I got it from you.” Nick shook his head. “You don’t remember it?” “No,” Peter said. “No wonder the cops asked me about it.” “No wonder the cops took me in directly afterward,” Nick said ruefully. “I took a swing at you?” Peter knew he’d been drunk and fairly surly, but he’d never been much of a scrapper—not even when completely inebriated. “No, you kicked me in the face when I was trying to take your shoes off,” Nick said. “That’s why I woke up wearing one shoe!” Peter congratulated himself on solving at least one mystery—even if it was more or less a preschool-level one. “Oh jeez, Nick, I’m sorry.”
I really liked this story overall, but I just don’t get how I was supposed to guess the villain. I mean, once again when it was told the story made perfect sense and I thought red herrings were very well done for not one but *two* faux villains.
What made me scratch my head was the real villain. I got his motivations perfectly well, but I am just not sure what I missed when I am looking back in order to see the clues of his identity.