Title: Copper Waters
Author: Marlene M. Bell
Genre: Cozy mystery
Copper Waters by Marlene M. Bell is the fourth in the Annalisse Series. The book opens with nearly engaged lovers, Annalisse and Alec, at odds over his past relationship with another woman and his paternity in question over her son. After solving crimes together in the previous novels, Annalisse and Alec go their separate ways for a time as she heads to New Zealand to follow her alleged mother’s trail. Once there, however, two small-town murders happen back-to-back, and Annalisse soon finds herself wondering if it’s coincidence or if something, or someone, more sinister is at work.
Marlene M. Bell is a master storyteller when it comes to the cozy mystery genre. Often, cozies are told in series, and to experience the full effect of the main characters’ journeys, reading the whole series paints that picture best. That said, the reader can easily and fully enjoy hopping in at book four because Bell does a superb and succinct job of giving backstory and summarizing events from the previous novels. She sprinkles this information throughout the text, so it doesn’t feel like an information overload, and the summaries flow naturally with the current plot. After reading Copper Waters, the reader may very well wish to read the rest of the series, including the eager anticipation of book five.
Copper Waters is rife with the necessary elements of a cozy mystery—not only the mysterious murders, but the background of a beautiful countryside, a small town with a crooked or questionable law enforcement, the curious and insightful protagonist, plenty of sweet romance, and a small, warm cottage, as well. Against the backdrop of seemingly innocent surroundings, an uneasiness lurks, which slowly grows as more clues unfold. Annalisse is accompanied by Bill, a private investigator and good friend of Alec. Together, the pair make a good team, and Alec joins them as a sturdy third leg of the table about halfway through.
As the plot thickens and the suspect list lengthens, we come to believe the Hydes, the family whose cottage Annalisse is staying at, are definitely hiding something. We smell a smarmy politician who might do anything to keep his reputation clean, a wife and mother whose sickening sweetness is only surface level, a brooding daughter, and a sweet younger daughter who’s exposed to her family’s dysfunction. When the big reveal comes, it hits not only Annalisse with a deeply unsettling fear, but also the reader.
There are some places where the tense switches to past tense when the book is told in present tense, and a few minor grammatical and punctuational errors linger throughout, but they don’t detract from the reader’s experience. Overall, the book is sufficiently edited.
Copper Waters is a classic, cozy mystery that is sure to entertain fans of this genre. Bell’s choice to write a series brings the reader back for more enjoyment in further tales of Annalisse and Alec. The surprise ending of Copper Waters sets up the story for the next novel and provides a satisfying conclusion to the current one.
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