Thursday, February 11, 2016

Murder in White Sands by Marla Bradeen - #review

One dead body, one interrupted marriage proposal, and too many suspects to count.

On the night of her engagement, Rae Lynn Dobbs stumbles across a dead body on the beach of White Sands, Florida. Not only does she recognize the murder victim as one of the retirement-home residents where she serves dinner, but it looks increasingly likely that someone there also killed him.

To her fiancĂ©’s dismay, Rae Lynn launches her own investigation. Between the gossipy widows, the home’s last surviving bachelor, and her coworkers, Rae Lynn doesn’t have any shortage of suspects. But the more she learns, the more it seems anyone could be guilty. And if she doesn’t find out “whodunit” quickly, her fiancĂ© might just become fed up enough to leave.



Rae Lynn has it rough.  Her fiance is alternately controlling and patronizing, and has horrible taste in jewelry to boot!  (OK, to be fair, I will say his taste in jewelry is different from Rae Lynn's.)  I do give him props for getting something I believe he really thought she would like.  And she works in an 'assisted living facility' - which are not known for outstanding salaries.

Most of the staff do the work because they love the residents and/or feel 'called' to the work.  I had a job at a facility for adults with MR/DD and there was a lot of lifting and transferring when assisting our charges.  I have to give Rae Lynn props for doing the work that she does.

And then there's Mr. Ralph.  He was an elderly gentleman for whom more than a few of the ladies also living there had a tale to tell.  So, imagine, you have just become engaged to the man you love, you go for a stroll on the beach, and run into the body of Mr. Ralph.  In the ensuing investigation, more than a couple suspects turn up.

Ms. Bradeen does a good job on the scene-building.  I could sense the vaguely medicinal smell that emanates from the halls and rooms of the facility.  And most the staff truly care for the residents.  The manager, however, is more concerned with appearances and keeping the beds full.  Of course, managers have to take everything into consideration, but she could probably get the job done with a little more 'bedside manner'.  She seems rather cold.

I love the 'ladies of a certain age' that live at White Sands.  They're feisty as all get out!  I definitely want to be kicking up my heels well into my 80's (or older), but I'm not quite sure I could openly discuss my love life and/or romantic prospects in public.  I find, though, that as I get older, I don't care as much what people think of me!

Rae Lynn is a resourceful employee, caregiver and investigator.  She does wear a number of  hats for her various roles.  She's a little scatterbrained and unsure of herself at times...but then so am I, and everyone likes reading about people like them!

There are several questions that arise during the course of the book.  Does Rae Lynn's love life involve smooth sailing or a rocky road?  Does Rae Lynn find her ideal 'life work'?  And is there a chicken in the area that is safe?  (Because they eat a LOT of fried chicken at White Sands.)  The answers are not immediately apparent, and that is good from a reader's point of view.  We want to think about and solve the questions while reading the story ... but not too soon.

Murder in White Sands is a wonderful read.  The characters are clear and the mix of 'heroes and villains' is balanced.  The suspect list gets larger over the span of the story, and then as the clues begin to fall into place, suspects are eliminated one by one ... but you still don't find out who, where or how until Rae Lynn walks through that last door.

A refreshing book, as I've not read a cozy set against the assisted living facility backdrop.  I read a lot of cozies.  Seriously. A. Lot.  So anything that is new and sits apart from its neighbors gets extra points.  Kudos to Marla Bradeen for expanding the horizons of the cozy mystery genre!



Marla Bradeen previously worked as a software consultant and analyst. In 2012, she gave up a traditional job for no other reason than to have more time to pursue personal interests, such as sleeping in late and taking naps. Although she misses seeing regular deposits into her bank account, she hasn’t once regretted that decision.

She didn’t initially intend to begin writing novels, but after several weeks of doing nothing, she realized sleeping all day isn’t as easy or enjoyable as her cats led her to believe. Over the ensuing months, she wrote Lethal Injection, which she self-published in 2013.

Join her readers’ group to receive a free copy of her cozy, chick-lit mystery novel Lost Witness




Click the banner to go to the tour page, which features more reviews and several interviews with the author.  The tour runs through Sunday, February 14.  You can also find out how to sign up to be a blog host for a stop on future book tours!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for my objective review.  This post contains affiliate links.)