Ya’ll know I love mystery fiction, right? Of course you do! I recently jumped at the chance to review the 2nd Calli Barnow themed mystery by Canadian author Liz Bugg, Oranges and Lemons. It was published by Insomniac Press and released for sale in April. So far, it hasn’t generated much buzz, but I intend to lend a hand to change that.
If you’re a fan of mystery fiction, and especially mystery fiction with a lesbian sleuth as the main character then you’re no doubt familiar with the works of the famous, wonderful author Ellen Hart. Her main protagonist, Jane Lawless is a Minnesota based restaurateur and semi-professional detective with an ass kicking side kick Cordelia (who, in my mind, regardless of the way Hart describes her, is a middle aged African American woman because it just plays better to her whole aura…but I digress). Yes, that Ellen Hart! Are we on the same page now? Good!
I contend that Liz Bugg has the makings to be Canada’s answer to our beloved Ms. Hart. Oh, she’s not quite reached the same pinnacle but she has the tools. She writes a very entertaining yet entirely plausible story. I can see books featuring Calli, the love of her life Jess, and her erstwhile gay sidekick Dewey becomming a long running series of novels similar to what Hart has enjoyed with Jane Lawless and crew.
In “Oranges and Lemons“, Calli is called upon by Toronto advertising agency owner Barbara and her right hand woman, Rose, to investigate financial discrepancies at the agency to determine if there is fraud. Sounds simple right? Not so much…
Calli is to go undercover posing as a manager of a new branch opening in far flung Vancouver, at HQ to get a feel for how things should operate. Rose is all set to show her the ropes. One problem: Rose dies before Calli can even start. No matter; the operation continued and – you guessed it – mayhem ensues.
Now this isn’t edge of your seat thriller stuff – except for some of the ending – but it is a great read. Liz Bugg draws her characters well for you. For example; in one setting of the story I can just picture and even hear the woman in the retro fabric shop. My only complaint, and it’s a small one, is that I would have liked just a bit more detail at the end. Yes, Bugg wraps the story up neatly but a few more details in the final chapter or, maybe, in an afterward, about how it all went down and what happened to the culprit would have been even better.
I certainly recommend this book and, just for fun, I’m going to go back and read the first one, Red Rover…you know… for continuity! Rest assured though, you can read this first. Though it makes references to things that must have happened in Red Rover, it stands alone.