Saturday, November 18, 2023

Not All Turkeys Are On The Table in Turkey Trot Murder by Leslie Meier

Scott D. Parker

If it seem like I just reviewed a Leslie Meier book last month, then you are absolutely correct. But the number of Thanksgiving-themed mysteries are rather small, so I read one of Meier’s two helpings.

Time Jumps and an Aging Protagonist

A more logical reader might read each book in a long-running series in order, but Turkey Trot Murder (2017) was the only audiobook available at the library. It is Meier’s 24th (out of 30 by next year). As a result, I had a bit of whiplash when I landed back in Tinker’s Cove, Maine, and our heroine, Lucy Stone.

She’s now a full-time report for the local weekly, but she and her husband, Bill, are now empty nesters. When I last left them in 1996’s Trick or Treat Murder, all the kids were, well, kids living at home. Lucy had to juggle all her various duties—mom, wife, reporter, friend—while still trying to solve that Halloween mystery.

Here, however, it’s just her and Bill, and she’s the catalyst for the entire story. It was Lucy, out running and training for the annual Turkey Trot race, who stumbled on the body of a young woman, face down in an icy pond.

I know that allowing characters to age in real time is nothing new, but I’ve actually read few long-running series so I found it rather refreshing. The youngest child is eighteen and in college while the oldest has already made grandparents out of Lucy and Bill.

Current American Trends Slip Into a Cozy Mystery

In the less-than-a-dozen cozy mysteries I’ve read to date, there is a common factor: despite the technology, many of these stories take place in a time you really can’t nail down (unless you read the copyright page and know what year it was published). Still, so many of these stories are timeless, in that they could land in almost any year of the last thirty or so years.

But Turkey Trot Murder lets in some things that were actually going on before 2017 and to this day. One of the characters is an American-born restaurateur whose heritage is from Spain. He appears Hispanic and nothing he says dissuades a certain subset of the population.

That subset are exemplified by a desire to make sure this restaurateur does not open his restaurant in Tinker’s Cove. “America for Americans” is the slogan these people chant over and over again, and it’s enough to make you cringe. It made Lucy and many of the the other characters cringe as well, and I appreciated the counter-arguments made to oppose this slogan. It was here the First Thanksgiving was referenced more than once, but it fell on deaf ears.

It’s Like General Fiction With Crimes Thrown In

Like I mentioned last month, Meier’s books are almost general fiction in that we spend a lot of time just in the everyday lives of Lucy and the other residents of Tinker’s Cove. It’s charming, to be honest, and it really makes you want to visit or, perhaps, look at your own town and see something similar.

There are crimes to be solved and Lucy, with her press badge, easily puts herself in the middle of everything. And, just like a good protagonist, she starts the story with the discovery and she ends it as well. Quite satisfactorily, I might add.

The mysteries of Lucy Stone by Leslie Meier have rapidly become comfort reading. I love visiting Tinker’s Cove, and I encourage you to plan a trip there. There are nearly 30 different novels, most surrounding a holiday. Pick one and dive in.

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