Verburg, Carol, Croaked; an Edgar Rowley Cape Cod Mystery

20 Aug

San Francisco, Boom-Books, 2011, pages
ISBN: 978-0-983435-50-1

Though not much of a murder mystery buff, this evocation of contemporary Cape Cod just before the summer influx is quite captivating.  Sufficiently so that it took precedence over a dance review.  Verburg’s feeling for place, climate and an intimacy known only to long-timers in a special place is abundant and affectionate. Nothing fosters literary accomplishment more than love.

Barbara Oplinger’s  cover recommends the theme, a lean green frog almost spread eagle against a white background, its fore-webbed extremities dropping  blood.

The heroine, Lydia Vivaldi, possessor of green-streaked hair, seeking refuge from Boston, has car problems en route to the Cape, and is rescued by documentary film maker Alistair Pope.  He takes her to Leo’s Back End in Quansett, whose sous-chef, Sue, had just taken off on one of her  sporadic resignations.  Lydia is taken on as replacement; after a brief stay in a motel she is provided with a charming summer sub-let by Edgar Rowley, an author noted for his macabre mysteries.

Upon arrival, Lydia also learns that DeAnne, the one person she knew in Quansett and a former employee, was dead from a ladder fall in the studio of her current employers Caroline Penn and Carlo Song, creators of successful Broadway musicals.  Lydia, remembering DeAnne, 22, and her skills during her brief employment, suspects the police determination is quite erroneous.

Chef Dinah and Mudge, the cashier, take to Lydia, as apparently does Pope, who makes torrid advances to her, under a large tree near the frog pond near Leo’s Back End, whose menu board is noted for blatant mis-spellings.  Before Sue reappears to find her job taken, Lydia’s soups endear her to the regulars.

Enter Roosevelt Sherman, retired football star, desiring a bookstore and determined to make an offer on The Frigate which the owner cannot refuse.  As part of the bargain, he retains Wallace Hicks, Quansett native returned after some years’ absence, and mainstay of the bookstore. Hicks allows Sue to spend the night in his Airstream trailer; in the morning he wished he knew where his condoms were stowed.

Simultaneously there are robberies in some local affluent homes, drawing the focus not only of the local police, but also the state police, represented by detective Helen Wills who went to school with Dinah, Alistair Pope and Helen’s husband, Chill, who is also a state policeman

These multiple miniature universes circle around each other, intersecting, coalescing as a second murder occurs. Though not qualifying for man-of-action and macho dialogue, it distinctly flatters a reader with post G.E.D. schooling.  Buy it and be captivated yourself.

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