Naughty on Ice (Discreet Retrieval Agency Mysteries)

Written by Maia Chance
Review by Valerie Adolph

On December 19th, 1923, Lola Woodby and her Swedish cook, Berta, arrive in the village of Maple Hill, Vermont, summoned by an anonymous rhyme delivered to their detective agency. It’s an unusual opening to a murder mystery. Lola and Berta have been invited to a dinner at Goddard Farm via this mysterious poem, the writer asking them to retrieve a ruby ring. The first murder happens as they are trying to force the ring off Aunt Daphne’s finger. More murders follow.

This is a novel in the rich-people-in-rural-New-England-setting genre. The wealthy family of Goddard Farm (actually a mansion) are immoral in various different ways, and the rural folk appear to be salt of the earth characters with whom we might relate.

The writer has researched the slang of this Prohibition period along with appropriate clothing for a New England winter. Her characters are clearly drawn, but her addiction to similes is distracting and the plot is inconsistent. It was difficult to connect with the main characters and their adventures.