Judith D Collins
By Eileen Goudge
Cypress Bay Mysteries #2
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication Date: 6/7/2016
My Rating: 5 Stars
New York Times–bestselling author Eileen Goudge blends mystery and romance in a captivating new novel featuring intrepid property manager Tish Ballard, whose client’s beachfront home becomes a headline-making homicide scene
With a Hollywood movie about to start filming in the California seaside town of Cypress Bay, Tish Ballard, owner of Rest Easy Property Management, welcomes her first celebrity tenant. Delilah Ward isn’t your typical beautiful, spoiled actress; she’s America’s sweetheart. Even Tish is charmed by the young star, which makes her gruesome discovery of Delilah’s bloodied corpse all the more gut-wrenching.
When someone near and dear to Tish is named a person of interest, the fearless property manager defies the wishes of her former heartthrob, homicide detective Spence Breedlove, and launches her own investigation—with help from her best friend, Ivy, and her erstwhile sidekick, McGee. But no sooner than she starts rubbing elbows with the movie cast and crew—including Delilah’s eerily efficient personal assistant, the starlet’s sexy costar, and the film’s predatory director—is her own life threatened. With so much at stake, Tish has no choice but to do whatever it takes to lure a crafty killer out of hiding.
Swimsuit Body is the 2nd novel in the Cypress Bay Mysteries, which began with Bones and Roses, but the books can be read and enjoyed in any order.
A special thank you to Open Road and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Much loved storyteller, Eileen Goudge returns with her exciting high-caliber cozy Cypress Bay Mystery series following Bones and Roses with the second installment, SWIMSUIT BODY. Tish and her cohort of continuing lively characters are great company—an appealing entangled whodunit mystery, along with entertaining and witty snappy dialogue, making for an ideal summer favorite read! Hollywood meets a feisty and sassy real estate property manager heroine (part-time sleuth) in a small charming seaside town; filled with razor sharp humor, murder, suspense, romance, vivid settings, stunning architecture, lovable characters, and more twists than the Pacific Coast Highway. In Northern California and the seaside town of Cypress Bay, readers meet the vacation rental queen, Leticia “Tish” Ballard, the former real estate broker, and recovering alcoholic, presently the owner of her own company, Rest Easy Property Management. She gave up the suits, and hectic life of real estate sales for flip flops and a more laid back lifestyle, where she takes care of the owner’s homes and prepares them for the guest arrival. Tish has a variety of clients, and part of her duties- to keep track of check in and departure dates, as well as maintenance and housekeeping schedules at the dozen properties her manages. She is preparing a Mediterranean-style beachfront villa Casa Blanca, in the exclusive gated community, the largest and most luxe of her vacation rentals. The house can accommodate fifteen; however, this client is a celebrity guest. One woman, who desires privacy. She can afford an entire house to herself. She has been running in circles, preparing for the celebrity, with the ongoing demands of Delilah Ward, communicated through Brianna Sweeny, an efficient young assistant over the phone. She can only envision her as the secretarial equivalent of a hired gun, packing weaponry in the form of a laptop and multiple handhelds synced to a Bluetooth device, glowing evilly in her ear as she bedeviled her with her employer’s endless list of requirements. Tish’s iPad calendar shows the guest to arrive today at 3pm. When arriving at the house with her iPad and the .38-caliber Smith and Wesson she is licensed to carry, she is shocked to find a small Yorkshire terrier, and a house turned upside down. No sign of the celebrity. Delilah is fresh out of rehab; however, by the looks of things there has been one heck of a party, and no one bothered to clean up. The house is in shambles—from booz and drugs—trashed! Tish has to see to repairs and ensure her clients aren’t getting ripped off by their pool or gardening service, and she screens the potential renters. She was faced with a psycho while she was investigating her mom’s murder case (last book), and began carrying a gun afterwards. Delilah came from humble beginnings, growing up in foster care and skyrocked to fame at age nineteen and several more pictures after that before her life and career were derailed by personal tragedy. Ten months earlier, she lost her husband, former stuntman, Eric Nyland, when his private plane went down in the ocean off Catalina Island. Apparently, the celebrity went into seclusion following reports of a breakdown, resurfacing a couple of months later to confirm she has been in rehab. Since then she had gone on to make another picture and now she is here in Cypress Bay where her next picture is being filmed. A big deal for the small community and the film crew set up twenty miles north of town. They will be filming a remake ofSuspicion, the 1941 picture starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine about a wife who suspects her new husband is out to kill her. It’s titled, Devil’s Slide -Delilah will be playing Joan. Tish has been sober for four years and knows all about AA. She does not need this headache, especially when the woman was not even supposed to be checked in yet. Tish begins trying to clean up the mess, since Esmeralda the housekeeper is busy with other houses. When she finishes, supernova Delilah comes in and apologies for the early arrival and the crew’s mess. She finds the star is actually nice and sweet. However, several days later Tish stops by to check on the celebrity and the house, and finds a dead Deliah out by the pool, face down shot. A bullet in the back of the head- Murder? America’s sweetheart and People’s magazine favorite cover girl. Who could have killed her and why? When arriving through the gate, she recalled seeing a black Escalade coming out. At the time she did not think much about it, however, now, wished she had gotten the license tag number. This time a mess she cannot clean up so easily. Tish calls 911 and does not look forward to dealing with Detective Spence Breedlove, her high school crush and present-day nemesis. They have a nasty history. He is sure to pin the murder on her unless she can come up with an alternate theory. Spence (think, Joseph Morelli) is hot, and has muscles in all the right places. His former pro athlete body and looks remain. Starting with a high school crush, she worshiped him from afar and ended when she lost her virginity to him, in a drunken hookup at school. He had spread the word, from bathroom walls at school, and lots of nasty tricks afterwards—plus he never apologized for taking advantage or for blabbing about it. Like she did not exist. She torched his much loved Camaro years ago. He has had it in for her, since. She seems to turn up at crime scenes, frequently. She has regretted two things in her life: Becoming an alcoholic, and the car torching. Tish is currently dating Bradley, a cameraman for CNN, currently on an assignment in Afghanistan. Things are always distant with them. Their only dates are via Skype. Not a lot of love and action here. Cypress Bay is the land of old hippies who did not fade away. We hear from Tish’s best friend, Ivy Ladeaux, since grade school, who lives down the street and works at the Gilded Lily, the collectibles shop and has inherited an old Victorian from her grandmother, which she is having remodeled—currently dating Rajeev a good-looking and rich software designer. Ivy has no desire to marry and continues to turn down his proposals. We also catch up with Tish’s brother Arthur (love him). He is volunteering at the Toursdale Senior Center. He teaches computer skills. His meds seem to be working, due to his mental illness—schizoaffective. A cross between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder—he is subject to both delusions and manic phases which comes and to without warning. Tish is her brother’s keeper. She is excited the manager of the Senior center wants to hire Arthur —a real job, from his status as volunteer. Basically his only friends: Ray his online computer geek friend, Ivy, and herself. However, now she discovers he has a mysterious and intriguing new friend, Gladys Sedgwick. Why was he being so secretive about her? A wealthy widow of late husband of Sedgwick Savings and Loan. She has grown children and grandchild (thirty-five years old), a year older than her brother. Are they more than teacher and student? She was married for fifty years; however, now seems to be very active plus she and Authur go “power walking”. Tish is intrigued with Arthur’s new woman (twice his age). In the meantime, Arthur is missing with Gladys and her family is worried. She hires OCD, Brianna (moves into Ivy’s house) to track down Arthur. Tish can kill two birds—put her on her brother’s trail and pick her brain about Delilah. Now Arthur is suspected to be a part of the murder somehow, and Tish has to clear his name and find him before he gets into more trouble. Plus, to further complicate, Ray and Arthur designed a computer game featuring a female superhero played by Delilah, which could make it appear as though Arthur had been obsessed with her. With his current whereabouts unknown and a prominent citizen claiming he coerced his elderly mother to flee town—does not look good. She knows Arthur is innocent. She has to prove it. A crime and mystery to solve. Tish finds herself, sleuthing once again – Nancy Drew returns! Now protagonist, Tish is stuck with the celebrity’s dog, and Brianna as her side kick. (think Stephanie and Lula-for the future). We catch up with Tom McGee, former NYPD detective, manager in residence of the self-storage facility, always a loose alcoholic cannon. Plus, what is going on with her brother and Gladys? Age seventy-four and even worse they find out she made a substantial withdrawal of twenty thousand dollars that morning? Was Delilah’s murder an act of revenge, greed, an obsessed fan, an affair? With lots of hilarious twists and turns and red herrings, the closer Tish gets to the truth, she puts herself in the middle of danger. In the meantime, the attraction and tension between Spence and Tish heats up (love/hate sizzle), as they are thrown together. He is getting divorced from his current wife and the father of two children. (yum) With an array of suspects and a bigger more evil picture surrounding the celebrity—from scandal, mystery, suspense, Hollywood parties, an affair, to a sworn enemy who might be looking to even an old score, new romance, rekindled ones, and a get out of jail free card. It will take every trick they've got to pierce the veil of secrecy surrounding the Hollywood celebrity murder. Goudge is a pro at spinning a tale, with her vivid settings and characters which come alive! Her prose is tart, lively and storytelling swift-paced . . and oh so entertaining! There is always something brewing with Tish and Rest Easy Property Management. I love this series! Has all the elements, you look for in a cozy mystery without all the gore. A colorful mystery with...polished writing, cleverly plotted puzzlers, witty dialogue, and sassy characters. As mentioned in my last review – Tish needs to hang out her PI shingle. Murder meets its match with hardworking, feisty, funny and appealing heroine... an absorbing, suspenseful romp. Having read Bones and Roses was excited to catch up with Tish and the gang! As a former innkeeper, and real estate property manager of twenty coastal vacation rentals in Florida from West Palm Beach to the Keys, can relate to all the drama and madness surrounding this job. (no murders, though) A long-time devoted fan of Eileen's work and one of my favorite authors, have read all (22) of her adult books. Urge you to read her bio and connect. A fascinating and genuine lady! From her first book, was hooked years ago with her heart-warming winning style, immediately started reading every book she has ever written. Highly recommend all her books, a rare treat with a wide variety of selections in women’s contemporary fiction. SWIMSUIT BODY is an excellent summer beach read (men and women). Move to the top of your list. Can be read as a standalone; however, would urge you to read Bones and Roses,for more background into this fun loving character, Tish. For fans of Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum Series) and Mary Kay Andrews’ Beach Town, Change of Scene, and (aka Kathy Hogan Trocheck’s ) Callahan Garrity Mystery Series (have read them all); you guys will love the Cypress Bay Series! Hope we see many more to come in this series. Note to author: We love you! Take care of your back, and health; your fans will be there waiting! It is heck getting older (I am right there with you)!
Bones and Roses
Cypress Mystery Series #1
About the Author
I’m a writer by day, wife of a film critic by night. Be careful what you tell me or it might end up in one of my novels. I come from a large family with a few skeletons rattling around in the closet. I’m also a mom and serial wife (as my current and forever husband calls me—you may have guessed he’s not my first). Luckily my friends and family are still speaking to me, and readers continue to read what I’ve written. Maybe because I’m not afraid to go there. So, please, pull up a chair if you dare.
I’ve led a storied life in more ways than one. I’ve gone places and done things that astound me, looking back on it. Where did I ever find the courage? The willpower? Much of it I would advise against, were I to go back in time and have a heart-to-heart with my younger self. But good or bad, it was all grist for the mill, so I regret none of it. (Though I feel fortunate not to be haunted by compromising photos of myself online, having come of age in the pre-Internet era). The beauty of fiction is you can reshape past events however you please. I wasn’t popular in high school but got to hang out with the cool kids when I wrote for the phenomenally successful teen series Sweet Valley High in the early years of my career. Trust me, you wouldn’t have wanted to live through some of what I lived through, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed the novels that came of it. Read More