Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard (review)

overmayadeadbody_orchard_revell.jpgMurder hits close to home for Serena in the final Serena Jones Mystery, as a man she grew up thinking of as an uncle is murdered near his Martha’s Vineyard home and she quickly learns that he may have been silenced for his knowledge of antiquities smuggling.

Every one is suspect, much to Serena’s dismay, as she finds herself considering possible motives of friends and family.  But she isn’t on her own, as she calls on a fellow agent vacationing nearby, other law enforcement officials become involved, and both Nate and Tanner arrive to assist her.  Well, assist and distract her thanks to Great Aunt Martha calling in Nate and Serena’s mother doing the same with Tanner.  These ladies know which “team” they are rooting for in the competition for Serena’s affections, even if Serena herself isn’t terribly aware that either one is truly interested in her romantically.  And that is part of her charm as the narrator of the story.

We’d just lost a dear friend.  And I had an art crime case that was clearly important to him, not to mention his probable murder, to solve.  I didn’t have time to be twitterpated over a couple of guys bent on role-playing knights in shining armor. (p. 105)

Another part of her charm, for me, is the credit she gives to God.  After having noticed something suspicious at the beginning of the novel, she later describes it as having been given a nudge.  I do love having stories where faith is simply lived as part of a character’s life, and enjoyed having this be the case for her even in her work as an FBI agent.  That on top of the Alias vibe that I often feel in these stories are a good part of what has kept me interested in these mysteries.

The mystery of the murder becomes quite involved, as Serena and the others investigate and the action as well as the quieter moments draw the reader in, as events unfold.  Great Aunt Martha is up to her usual wonderful and quirky mischief, and like Serena she ends up with two men on the island.  I do love Martha, and learning more about her was one of the highlights of the story for me.

“Already making friends, I see,” I said wryly.

Aunt Martha grinned.  “Nothing like the ocean breezes to put a little romance in the air.”

Martha, though, isn’t the only one with secrets.  Nate’s past also comes more to light, and almost rivaled Martha’s for me.  Tanner had a few surprises for Serena as well, particularly when on stakeout.

I finally found myself taking sides on the Tanner/Nate teams, but was thrown off several times until Serena finally, somewhat surprising herself, comes to a decision.  While I don’t typically care for love triangle storylines, this was handled quite well and definitely had some amusing moments throughout the trilogy.

Tanner graced me with an unnaturally patient look, as if I might be too simpleminded to understand.  “You have blinders on when it comes to guys you date.”  His gaze shifted pointedly toward Nate.

The corners of Nate’s lips twitched into a grin.  Apparently, he’d rather let Tanner think we were dating than take offense at what I was supposedly blind to in him. (p. 108)

Mysteries aren’t something I seek out, but I greatly enjoyed all of the Serena Jones books.  As with the prior novels, the mystery itself is quite well done, and kept me intrigued throughout the book.  While I have been able to predict some developments, there was always enough to surprise and entertain me.

Particularly after reading the epilogue (and don’t skip it if you aren’t an epilogue fancier), I found myself wishing that this was an ongoing series and that I was completely mistaken that it is a trilogy.  As a friend said to me after finishing Over Maya Dead Body (she beat me to it, though I was the one who recommended the trilogy to her), “Where’s the Greece story?  I want Greece.”  I so agree.

Danger, art, and romance make this trilogy a triple threat but it is the relationships between Serena and her family as well as her two admirers that I most enjoy.  Highly recommended if you enjoy mysteries, or first person narratives by plucky young heroines who work in the Art Crimes division of the FBI (no? Read this and you will be).

Over Maya Dead Body (Serena Jones Mysteries, #3) by Sandra Orchard | Revell, July 2017 | paperback, 352 pages

I voluntarily spent my own, hard earned money to purchase a copy of this book.  Do read these in order for maximum enjoyment.  You can read my review of book 1, A Fool and His Monet here, and book #2, Another Day, Another Dali here.

From the Publisher:

Crime doesn’t take a vacation

FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha’s Vineyard with her family, ready for a bit of R & R and a lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But when a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring interrupts her picture-perfect trip, she’s soon entangled in the investigation.

Propelled into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them a boatload of romantic complications–and even a secret or two?

Sandra Orchard is the award-winning author of several books, including A Fool and His Monet;Another Day, Another Dali; and the Port Aster Secrets series. The winner of six Canadian Christian Writing Awards and a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Sandra has also received a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit, a National Readers’ Choice Award, and a Daphne du Maurier Award. She lives in Ontario, Canada.