Far-Fetched But Fun
Reviewed in the United States on 4 July 2020
Stella Wright is the owner of the Wick & Flame, a candle making business in Nantucket. But right now she's on vacation in Paris with her mother, Millie, and enjoying every minute of it. Millie is attending a perfume industry show, since she specializes in scents and travels all over the world. On this, their last day, she is giving a talk about the unusual scents that she's brought back from her visit to the Amazon. But before she can speak, they hear someone scream, and run to the sound. A man is dying from a knife wound to the back, and just before he expires, he makes eye contact with Stella. Shaken, the conference is obvious over, and after being questioned by the police, they have just enough time to catch their flight home.
On the ferry back to the island, Stella notices a dark-haired woman staring at her from a nearby yacht; and it seems that Millie has met an old school friend, Nathaniel Dinks, who is there for a birthday party weekend for another school chum. Millie is afraid of cats (silly woman), so Stella leaves Tinker in the shop all night, and when she returns the front of the shop has been torn through and she blames it on her cat. But a strange note on her door is telling her different: that her mother has stolen a secret formula and if it's not returned, it will be the worse for her.
Now Stella is wondering what exactly they've gotten themselves into. Why would her mother steal anything? And when Millie has an accident and winds up in the hospital, it's up to Stella to sniff out who's after her. But finding out she's involved with spies doesn't help. Or that her boyfriend Peter is up to something. Or the fact that the guests in her cousin's B&B could be the spies, or a nice English woman they met in Paris, or even any one of the men for the party. All Stella cares about is finding the formula to keep her mom alive...now if she can do that...
This is the second book in the series, and although it's far-fetched, it doesn't matter because it's fun, and that's what books are all about. There are secrets and spies, and Stella is caught up in it, and who hasn't wanted to experience the type of things James Bond seems to be up to? (Although I can do without Mr. Bond's enemies).
Stella finds herself right in the middle of an international mystery, and her job is to keep her mom safe and out of it. Which means not telling anyone, including her journalist boyfriend Peter or her cop friend Andy. Which also means she's working on her own, besides trying to ferret out the spy who wants the formula and find the formula itself. Things are more difficult than she thinks, and she doesn't know who the killer is, and she has a lot of suspects who might be the guilty party. But when the stakes are upped she knows she doesn't have time, and it's only through the grace of a US Government agent that she's able to figure things out.
What follows is a sprightly tale of intrigue, secrets, lies, murder, and Stella's own frustration, as she's chasing down a murderer to keep her mother safe. Yes, it's rather unbelievable, but fun nevertheless, and it never gets bogged down in anything that's over the top. Stella is an interesting character who, while she tries to figure it out, goes places I wouldn't go, but in the spirit of the book it can be forgiven.
Her mother Millie is a hoot. She lives life to the fullest and has no idea what's going on with her daughter throughout the book -- although to be fair, she spends some time sleeping in the hospital. I did wonder why Stella calls her Millie instead of mom; hopefully this will be explained in another book. (If it was in the first, I might have missed or ignored it).
In the end, when everything comes together after an adventurous climax, it gives a feeling of satisfaction and something to look forward to in the next in the series. Recommended.