Murder on Faux Pas Island
Both sides of each family welcome sometimes marriages and at times they are questioned and the motives for he union held suspect and often presents doubts and questions that might go unanswered even after the final I Do’s are spoken. What would happen if the marriage was sanctioned but the families were kept in the dark and the nuptials were going to be repeated in a unique and special way. Within this novel there are many embarrassing social mistakes or Faux Pas that require the reader to look inside the events that transpire and find them as we take a trip back in time to Southern United States in the 1930’s and meet the families of Oz and Raymond as they are going to walk down a very different isle. Author Casey McKittrick created the character of Pancetta Brulee/Chet as a creative and talented professional caterer invited to this wedding to prepare some of her famous culinary dishes. But, what finally gets served up after all the players are introduced and we meet the families on both sides is a murder that Pancetta is asked to solve. Oswald Robicheaux and Raymond Olivero were to be married but first Raymond hired a private investigator to look into the Robicheaux family and their business. The previous summer his father was killed in what was thought to be an accident due to his over drinking but some thought it might be murder. Ramon Olivero was in love with Oswald and wanted his son to be happy but at whose expense? While Oswald was said to be off on business for his family and Raymond sent away for his both were really doing other things. Oswald was in Bucharest having fun with plenty of young males Oswald was there but not working he was recuperating from an illness and injury with the help of one of our wedding guests the Contessa who is quite interesting and colorful in her own right. Raymond was concerned about where his husband was and what he would have found out would definitely have made him think twice about his marriage and who Oswald really was and what he wanted. The plot becomes more complex as we meet the Olivero family: Sonya Raymond’s sister, her husband Beau, Uncle Marvin who was also in love with Oswald, Monroe Dangler, the accountant totally taken with this young man too, Merman the butler, Mrs. Wedgewood the housekeeper who had her own secrets and of course Pancetta and her old flame Joe Bliss. This is a cast of wild characters that will not disappoint readers.
Wedding dinners are planned and the first of many successful as Pancetta begins to settle into a solid rhythm. During the celebration Oz gives a special tribute to his father for his birthday but his father, Armand does not seem to reciprocate the accolades and his response is what we might deem a true faux pas or social mistake. As the dinner draws to a close and the cards he uses to read from fall away the handwriting seems odd and the end result helps a killer complete his/her plot. Someone definitely did kill Ramon but who and when the killer puts it together this person decides to take action and what better time than now. But first another dinner, a breakfast and noises are heard coming from different floors and directions waking Pancetta and Joe. As the cast of characters emerge and each one finds themselves wondering what caused the racket, the broken glass and the noises one person leads everyone in the wrong direction hoping his/her actions will not come to the forefront and a perfect murder will go unsolved.
The list of suspects if quite extensive from Uncle Marvin, Monroe, Raymond, Sonya and her husband Beau as well as the butler, the housekeeper and the Contessa. But, old feelings surface and in the middle of the investigation both Pancetta and Joe remember the past and relive it even if for a just one night. Each person within this cast of characters is unique and their personalities different as Beau and Sonya are actors and play their roles quite well. Someone finally finds the missing boat and realizes there were two and what they find explains the disappearance of the private investigator.
Piecing it all together is not so simple while trying to stay objective Pancetta learns about a secret passage which explains how the killer managed to get away and leaves clues that lead them all in the wrong direction. When the final confrontation takes place another murder happens at the maid hears something and the killer needs to make sure it’s not repeated. Right out of a Hercule Poirot episode the author brings all of the suspects into one room while Pancetta eliminates them one at a time before focusing in the real killer with a surprise ending that will shock readers. Learning who was involved in the murder of Oz, the housekeeper was killed but when the evidence is brought to light and the clues out in the front the guilty person denies it all. When Oz was killed all of his holdings and stocks would go to Raymond and the merger between two family businesses would stand. As you read the final moments before the reveal Pancetta explains the part each one played in this mystery and the murder in depth. A simple note asking someone to meet was the stumper and the threat of losing his position as accountant might have been someone’s motive but was it. Lies, betrayals, affairs that come to light, unyielding situations and a family that is so disjointed they never stood as one but far apart. Who killed the senior Olivero and why? Who decided to take matters into their own hands and seek their own justice for Ramon’s death? Who stands to benefit and why? Will Raymond stand by the memory of Oz? What happens when he learns the the truth about his father’s death? Pancetta and Joe piece it together and a simple bunch of cards and a note is the killer’s downfall as some FAUX PAS’s cannot go unnoticed. Murder on Faux Pas Island is anything but a social plunder or mistake it is a well crafted, fast paced murder mystery with a character that is unique, colorful, interesting and has her/his own special flair. Let’s hope we see more of Pancetta and of course get to sample her great culinary treats.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine