Annalisse Series, Book 4
MARLENE M. BELL
Genre: International Mystery / Crime / Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing ** 340 pages
Date of Publication: October 7, 2022
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A rural New Zealand vacation turns poisonous.
Antiquities expert Annalisse Drury and tycoon Alec Zavos are at an impasse in their relationship when Alec refuses to clear up a paternity issue with an ex-lover.
Frustrated with his avoidance when their future is at stake, Annalisse accepts an invitation from an acquaintance to fly to New Zealand—hoping to escape the recent turbulence in her life.
But even Annalisse’s cottage idyll on the family sheep farm isn’t immune to intrigue.
Alec sends a mutual friend and detective, Bill Drake, to follow her, and a local resident who accompanies them from the Christchurch airport dies mysteriously soon after. A second violent death finds Annalisse and Bill at odds with the official investigations.
The local police want to close both cases as quickly as possible—without unearthing the town’s dirty secrets.
As she and Bill pursue their own leads at serious cost, the dual mysteries force Annalisse to question everything she thought she knew about family ties, politics, and the art of small-town betrayal.
***** CLICK TO ORDER COPPER WATERS *****
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Having read all of the prior books in this series I must admit that I think this one is my favorite so far. And the opening with Annalise and her horse… Well, I’m a horse lover and that scene was so perfect. Many times I’ve told my secrets and shared my frustrations with my horse while riding or even grooming, so her moment was very relatable.
What a delight is was to read a story set in New Zealand, which was a refreshing change from so many books set in larger countries and larger cities. The visit to the sheep farm and all the details around raising sheep was very interesting, and it’s so clear that the author knows her business when it comes to sheep farming. The information about breeding and shearing, and all the other aspects of raising sheep, was sprinkled in judiciously, so there was never a sense of getting a lesson in ranching. The reader is introduced to various characters who play a part in the ensuing mystery during Annalise and Bill’s tour of the sheep farm, which makes it all integral to the story and flow smoothly.
Previous books set in Greece and Italy were great virtual visits to places I’ve never been, and the descriptions and details of places of interest brought the settings to life. As does this story set in a country I’ve always wanted to visit. Now I have, if only vicariously.
The story in this book was largely focused on Annalise and her deliberations over the state of her relationship with her lover, Alec. She left on this unplanned trip to New Zealand because of complications in their relationship when his ex shows up with a son purported to be his. Alex has vacillated about whether he would get a paternity test, and while Annalise is sure she loves him, she’s not sure where they’re headed as a couple if he won’t do that one thing.
So, she just had to get away from the personal conflicts.
In this totally different setting, she’s able to have time and space to think about where things might be going with Alec. Well, that is until the murders start to happen, and she’s pulled into the investigation, not of her own free will. At that point, she’s focused on solving the mystery that local authorities seem reluctant to deal with.
The private investigator, Bill Drake, who works for Alec, is back in this story and takes a much larger role than in previous books. And I must admit that I like him as a central male character more than I’ve ever liked Alec. In previous stories, there’s always been something about him that made me not care very much for him. Maybe the way he’s all into himself and his money and status? But maybe more because that facet of his character always made me wonder why Annelise might want to spend the rest of her life with him. Attraction I understand, but…
That said, when Alec does enter this story in a significant way, he does so as a much more likable person. Right away I wanted to cheer at the change in him when he indicates that he’s willing to bend a little for her, which is an important part of any relationship in my estimation.
If you’d like a trip to New Zealand to join Annalise in solving another top-notch mystery, grab a copy of Copper Waters. And hang on for the totally surprising, but stunning, conclusion.
Marlene M. Bell is an eclectic mystery writer, artist, photographer, and she raises sheep in beautiful East Texas with her husband, Gregg, three cats and a flock of horned Dorset sheep.
The Annalisse series — mysteries with a touch of romance — has received numerous honors including the Independent Press Award for Best Mystery (Spent Identity) and FAPA (Florida Author’s President’s Gold Award) for two other installments, Stolen Obsession and Scattered Legacy. She also penned the first of her children’s picture books, Mia and Nattie: One Great Team! based on true events from the Bell’s ranch. The simple text and illustrations are a touching tribute of compassion and love between a little girl and her lamb.
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ONE GRAND PRIZE WINNER:
$50 VISA Card, 100% New Zealand gray wool throw, leather bucket bag, signed ARC paperback of Copper Waters, Hagestad hammered copper water bottle, Lucy Pittaway notebook
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 3/3/2023)
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