"Will a dead body mean more trouble for Tori, Kathy, and Anissa?"
Reviewed by Debbie Wiley
Posted July 21, 2018
Kathy Grant is preparing to open up the Swan's Nest by
clearing out some of the brush in the lawn with the
assistance of her best friend, Tori Cannon.
Unfortunately, they find more than just a debris as a
dead body is in the marshy area of the property.
Meanwhile Tori is working odd jobs as a substitute
teacher to pay the bills while trying to get Cannon Bait
and Tackle solvent again and dreaming of the day she can
renovate the Lotus Lodge. Anissa Jackson is assisting
both Tori and Kathy with renovations while trying to get
her own contracting business on its feet. Will the
murdered man mean more trouble for Tori, Kathy, and
Anissa? Will the opening of the Swan's Nest be
successful? And what about Tori's dreams for her own
A REEL CATCH is the second book in the Lotus
Mysteries series but can be read as a standalone.
However, we are seeing the relationships between Tori,
Kathy, and Anissa solidify and become much stronger. I
won't reveal spoilers, but there are some interesting
twists in their growing friendships with locals Lucinda
Bloomfield and Noreen Darcy. I'll be curious to see
what the future holds. I particularly love that Lorraine
Bartlett focuses on the empowerment of women even under
some very trying circumstances.
I've struggled with liking all of Tori's family,
including her grandfather Herb, who was a major figure in
the first book, WITH BAITED BREATH. A REEL CATCH
introduces us to a cousin, Amber, who is thoroughly
dislikable. Oddly enough, Herb's move to Florida after
his lottery win has softened him a bit (or perhaps it's
his new love, Irene) and he's starting to grow on me. I
won't say I'm missing him, but I'm at least starting to
better understand why Tori loved him and her now deceased
grandmother so much - and why the bait shop and lodge mean
so much to her.
A REEL CATCH is a fun cozy mystery featuring likable
women characters dealing with the struggles of small
business ownership. Lorraine Bartlett does a phenomenal
job at showcasing strong women in non-traditional roles. I
cried, laughed, and cheered right along with Tori,
Kathy, and Anissa. The Lotus
is the first series I've read by Lorraine Bartlett, but it
definitely won't be the last!
Swans Nest Inn is about to open, and Kathy Grant solicits
her BFF, Tori Cannon, to help spruce up her property at the
marshy end of Lotus Bay, only they didnâ€™t count on finding
body. Who was he? Whatâ€™s his connection to their friend
Darcy? Meanwhile, two entrepreneurs with vast business ties
are interested in helping Tori reopen the Lotus Lodge, and
their real motives are as murky as the bay after a storm.
Will Swans Nest open on time? Will the Lotus Lodge reopen
ExcerptKathy knew the drill. After all, sheâ€™d been interrogated by
the Sheriffâ€™s Department on more than one occasion
following the terrible events of the previous summer. The
bad guys hadnâ€™t yet gone to trial, so there was still that
horror to come.
What she minded most was the suspicion law enforcement
leveled at one when it came to reporting a dead body.
â€śDetective Osborn,â€ť she said, unable to keep the testiness
from her voice, â€śThe guy in the water has obviously been in
soak for quite a while, so itâ€™s not like we killed him.â€ť
Osborn had been the detective in charge of the Michael
Jackson homicide the year before. Heâ€™d been a sour SOB then
and his personality had not undergone any improvement,
although he seemed to have lost the beer belly and gotten a
decent haircut. Maybe he had an upcoming court appearance
and wanted to look good. Kathy couldnâ€™t imagine any woman
actually being attracted to the man. But then he was
middle-aged, and she still had more than a decade to go to
get to that point in life.
â€śSo you say.â€ť
â€śAre you crazy?â€ť Anissa Jackson asked, giving the detective
the fisheye. â€śThereâ€™s a reason black folk like me donâ€™t
like to talk to white cops like youâ€”â€ť she began even more
testily than Kathy.
Kathy waved her hands in the air as though to erase
Anissaâ€™s words. â€śLetâ€™s not go there,â€ť she placated. â€śIt was
Tori and I who found the jacket in the waterâ€”with the guy
still in it.â€ť
A still-shivering Tori stood nearby. Despite the fact sheâ€™d
changed clothes and donned warm shoes, hat, scarf, and
boots, she complained that she couldnâ€™t seem to get warm.
What she needed was to be inside with a lap robe, a cat,
and a big mug of cocoa. â€śWe figured he must have fallen
overboard while hunting or fishing last fall. Or maybe
crashed through the ice on his snowmobile.â€ť
â€śA very good theory,â€ť Osborn said, â€śexcept for one thing.
Nobody around here has been reported as missing.â€ť
â€śWell, then Iâ€™m stumped,â€ť Kathy said wrapping her arms
around herself in an effort to keep warm. She was ready for
cocoa and a lap robe, too. â€śIs it really necessary that we
stand around in the cold while you guys do whatever it is
Osborn frowned. â€śI suppose not. But Iâ€™m not done
â€śFine. Weâ€™ll go back into my house and when youâ€™re ready,
weâ€™ll be available to talk.â€ť
â€śVery well.â€ť He turned, heading back toward the medical
examinerâ€™s team that had arrived from Rochester and was
about to pull the body from the water. It wasnâ€™t something
Kathy wanted to witness.
â€śCome on, ladies. Letâ€™s go back inside.â€ť
â€śYou donâ€™t have to convince me,â€ť Tori said.
The three women trudged back up the small rise to the large
house, past the big sign that had been erected just the
week before. The name, Swans Nest, Kathyâ€™s about-to-open
bed and breakfast, was raised from the chiseled background
of the pressure-treated wood and filled in with gold leaf.
The image of a mama swan sitting on a nest was situated
above it, and a temporary vinyl banner attached to it
promised OPENING SOON.
They climbed the steps to the newly replaced front porch,
and Kathy opened the heavy oak front door that had been
restored to its former glory. Anissa was responsible for a
lot of the repairs and refurbishments, but Kathy had
invested months of sweat equity as well.
Upon entering the house, Anissa closed the door and she and
Tori followed their hostess into the kitchen, where Kathy
immediately put the electric kettle on, taking out cups,
spoons, and cocoa powder.
â€śYouâ€™re going to make hot chocolate with water?â€ť Anissa
â€śI made it that way all winter and you never complained.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s becauseâ€”â€ť But she didnâ€™t seem to have an answer.
â€śThen whyâ€™s it so chocolatey?â€ť
â€śBecause I add chocolate chips.â€ť
â€śAre you gonna make it that way for your guests?â€ť
â€śProbably not. The idea is for them to come here to be
pampered. The three of us merely need to warm up.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m all for that,â€ť Tori announced and took a seat at the
marble-topped island. She seemed to shudder once again and
blew onto her still-gloved hands to warm them.
Anissa joined her childhood friend at the island. â€śGot any
â€śHave I ever not?â€ť Kathy asked, pointedly.
Anissa shot Tori a smug look. She was the ultimate cookie
Kathy scooped half a dozen sunflower seed cookies from the
big glass jar on the back counter, placed them on a plate,
and set it in front of her friends. Neither wasted time
grabbing oneâ€”although Tori did at least remove one of her
Anissa took a bite, chewed, smiled in approval, then
swallowed. â€śDamn, theyâ€™re good. Another new recipe?â€ť
Kathy nodded, pleased at her friendâ€™s reaction. â€śI need to
have an array of options to offer my brides.â€ť
Kathy was gambling that she would be able to throw bridal
showers, and possibly host weddings and receptions, at
Swans Nest. Sheâ€™d been gathering recipes and testing them
on Anissa and Tori all winter. Catering would be a big part
of her businessâ€¦she hoped.
â€śSo what do you think the story is with that dead guy?â€ť
â€śSeems weird that a body washes up when nobodyâ€™s been
reported missing,â€ť Anissa commented before taking another
bite of cookie.
â€śWho do you think he could be?â€ť Kathy asked.
â€śHe couldâ€™ve come from Canada,â€ť Tori offered, watching as
Kathy spooned cocoa mix into the mugs. â€śI mean, he was
wearing a plaid coat.â€ť
â€śYou think only Canadians wear plaid jackets?â€ť Anissa
Tori shrugged. â€śSo do the Scots.â€ť
Anissa frowned. â€śThatâ€™s an awfully long way to float.â€ť
â€śYeah, around fifty miles,â€ť Tori said. â€śBut think of how
those waves crash up at the Point.â€ť
â€śPoint nothingâ€”your breakwall,â€ť Kathy said.
Tori nodded. â€śWith a wind from the north, anythingâ€™s
â€śIâ€™m sure the detective will put out a call. I mean, just
because nobody has disappeared on Lotus Bay doesnâ€™t mean
the dead guy wasnâ€™t a missing person. Thereâ€™s a reason
Ontarioâ€™s called a Great Lake.â€ť
â€śLuckily weâ€™re not going to have to worry about this guy,â€ť
Anissa said and reached for another cookie.
â€śOh, no? What if they want us to look at his face? Besides
the normal putrefaction of flesh, you donâ€™t know what else
could have been nibbling on him all these months.â€ť
â€śYou mean like fish and turtles and stuff?â€ť Kathy asked.
Again Tori nodded.
â€śI certainly donâ€™t want to look at a putrefied dead guy,â€ť
Anissa announced, glanced at her cookie, and decided to put
â€śOsborn canâ€™t make us do that, can he?â€ť Kathy asked,
Tori shrugged. â€śMaybe.â€ť
The kettle began to boil and Kathy poured the hot water
into the mugs, stirring each of them before adding a
heaping tablespoon of chocolate chips to each mug, again
stirring until theyâ€™d melted and thickened the liquid. She
passed the mugs around.
Anissa blew on her cocoa to cool it. â€śHow long do you think
it will be before Osborn knocks on your door?â€ť
As if on cue, the bell rang.
â€śNot long?â€ť Tori suggested.
Kathy left the kitchen to answer it. She came back less
than a minute later with Detective Osborn in tow. â€śWould
you like some cocoa?â€ť
â€śNo, maâ€™am. I just wanted to make sure I have all your
â€śCouldnâ€™t you just look it up in your files from last
year?â€ť Anissa asked and Tori gave her a nudge to cool it.
â€śWeâ€™re more than happy to cooperate,â€ť Kathy said sincerely.
Osborn took down their full names, phone numbers, and
â€śWhatâ€™s going to happen to the body?â€ť Kathy asked.
â€śItâ€™ll be autopsied to try to ascertain the cause of death,
and then go into the cooler for a time in hopes someone
will identify it and assume responsibility.â€ť
â€śAnd if that doesnâ€™t happen?â€ť
â€śThe county will have to bear the expense of burial.â€ť
â€śPoor man,â€ť Tori said. â€śI meanâ€”it was a man, wasnâ€™t it?â€ť
â€śApparently,â€ť Osborn agreed. He stuffed his notebook into
his coat pocket. â€śIf you ladies will excuse me. Iâ€™ll be in
touch.â€ť He turned for the hall and the front door.
â€śArenâ€™t you gonna say thank you?â€ť Anissa called after him.
Osborn pivoted. â€śWhat for?â€ť
â€śFor being good citizens and reporting the body.â€ť
For a moment, Kathy thought Osborn might explode. But then
he answered through gritted teeth. â€śThank you.â€ť
Kathy saw him out and returned to the kitchen to find her
friends again munching cookies and sipping cocoa.
â€śDid you have to tease him?â€ť she asked Anissa.
â€śI didnâ€™t have toâ€”I just wanted to.â€ť
â€śYou could get us all in trouble.â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t know. Disrespecting authority?â€ť
â€śI predict the detective wonâ€™t bother. The guy drowned. End
â€śYou hope,â€ť Tori said.
The three of them looked at one another.
Kathy knew that she sure hoped that would be the last they
heard about dead plaid guy. And yet â€¦ the tight feeling in
her stomach told her otherwise.
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