First Lines: "If the incidents of the past few weeks are ever turned into one of those Hallmark Channel murder mysteries, I'll suggest the producers call it Summer of the Penguins. Which would be all the more ironic because I live in the small Georgia town of Cymbeline."
Summary: Nina (pronounced "Nine-ah") Fleet has only lived in Cymbeline for a few months. After her divorce she wanted to get out of crowded, impersonal Atlanta. So, when she spied this house after making a wrong turn on an antiquing jaunt, she was smitten and knew she had to purchase it.
Since that time she has been harassed by a man who claims to be a relative of the previous owner. Harry Westcott claims his aunt meant to leave the house to him and he aims to take back what is his. Nina has been ignoring his calls, so when he shows up on her doorstep wearing a penguin costume, she is a little rattled. He has brought a letter that proves his aunt meant to leave the house to him. Nina has no intention of giving up the house so easily and lets him know he will need to pursue this through the proper channels. Thankfully, Harry leaves peacefully.
In the meantime, the mayor of Cymbeline approaches Nina offering to approve her application for a B&B if she can open immediately. There is a convent nearby that has been purchased by real estate developer, Mr. Bainbridge. The Sisters of Perpetual Poverty are without a home and the mayor is trying to help them. All of the other B & B's in town are full, so if Nina could accommodate them, the mayor would help her out by approving her application. Nina is up for the challenge.
The very first morning of their stay at Nina's new B & B, the nuns head to the town square to peacefully protest Mr. Bainbridge. Nina chooses to tag along. As she is juggling waters bottles and snacks, a frantic woman comes running out of an alley calling for help. Someone has been stabbed. And that someone is wearing a penguin costume.
My thoughts: I really enjoyed this first book in the Georgia B & B series. It drew me in to the extent that I once I started reading I became unaware of my surroundings until I was several chapters into the book.
Nina is a likeable character. She is new to town, but has already made a few acquaintances. She is eager to make new friends, maybe a little too much at times. After living in Atlanta for several years and going through an awful divorce, she was ready to live life a little slower.
The nuns were a lot of fun! They are all elderly, except one, who feels it is her duty to watch out for the older nuns. These ladies may be pious, but they are not wimps. They are very willing to stand up for what is right. They are very capable and get things done. Nina enjoys their stay at her home and finds herself quite sad when they leave. I hope they will make an appearance in future books in the series.
I liked Sheriff Connie Lamb, too. She knows how to take charge of a situation, but she also knows when to be a bit more lenient. People trust her and she is well respected in the town and by her deputies. If Nina comes across something she thinks would be important to the case, she does not hesitate to contact the sheriff. I liked that about her. She is in no way trying to find the killer on her own.
The mystery kept the pages turning. There were several twists and secrets that might have been related to the mystery or not. Just when I thought I might have a clue as to whodunit, another twist came up and had me doubting myself. In the end, the killer was revealed and order was restored.
I loved the way the author described the Georgia heat. I could visualize what it must be like even though I have never been to Georgia. Now I am plotting when I can come back to Cymbeline and can't wait to read the next book in the series.