Deadly Summer Nights (A Catskill Summer Resort Mystery)
by Vicki Delany
About Deadly Summer Nights
Deadly Summer Nights (A Catskill Summer Resort Mystery)
1st in Series
Publisher : Berkley (September 7, 2021)
Setting – New York
Mass Market Paperback : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 059333437X
ISBN-13 : 978-0593334379
Digital ASIN : B08NT3JCXQ
A summer of fun at a Catskills resort comes to an abrupt end when a guest is found murdered, in this new 1950s set mystery series.
It’s the summer of 1953, and Elizabeth Grady is settling into Haggerman’s Catskills Resort. As a vacation getaway, Haggerman’s is ideal, and although Elizabeth’s ostentatious but well-meaning mother is new to running the resort, Elizabeth is eager to help her organize the guests and the entertainment acts. But Elizabeth will have to resort to untested abilities if she wants to save her mother’s business.
When a reclusive guest is found dead in a lake on the grounds, and a copy of The Communist Manifesto is found in his cabin, the local police chief is convinced that the man was a Russian spy. But Elizabeth isn’t so sure, and with the fate of the resort hanging in the balance, she’ll need to dodge red herrings, withstand the Red Scare, and catch a killer red-handed.
This new series from Vicki Delany takes place in 1953 and features Elizabeth Gray and her mother Olivia Peters. Olivia inherited Haggerman’s Catskills Resort that specializes in A Healthy Outdoor Exercise during the day and The Stars of Entertainment at Night. (Think Hellerman’s from Dirty Dancing.) Elizabeth manages the day-to-day activities and Olivia, a former Hollywood, and Broadway dance star steps in and uses her celebrity status to iron over any problems that arise. They are working hard to make the business a great success but even Olivia can’t intervene when one of the guests is found dead in the lake. The guest had booked the most private cabin for a few weeks and aside from taking nightly walks by the lake no one really ever saw him. His meals were delivered by room service and left at his door and he left the cabin when the maids came to clean.
The local sheriff searched the room and noticed the copy of The Communist Manifesto and called a full stop to his investigation and called in the FBI absolutely sure the dead man was a Russian Spy or communist sympathizer. From what Elizabeth could see of the scene she believes the man was writing a book and that the Manifesto could have been research. She also knows the reputation of the resort is on the line. With little faith in the authorities, she starts her own little investigation while trying to save the resort from any bad publicity but her snooping could prove deadly for herself or someone she cares about.
Vicky Delany has set this series off to a fabulous start. She takes the reader back in time in a very comfortable way. She sets the scene wonderfully with detailed descriptions and brings the area to life featuring a core set of characters along with some of the 400+ guests, 1 talented entertainer, and the nephew of the deceased who wants some answers.
I really liked Elizabeth. A strong sassy woman in a job typically held by a man. She is juggling several duties at the resort and the last thing she needs is a murder on the grounds. She takes that on too without complaint and keeps her wits about her when the men involved in the case basically overlook, dismiss, or completely ignore her due to her gender. She has brought together an excellent staff, some of which are family or have been lifelong friends. They are truly competent and keep the place humming from the children’s swimming lesson to doing the foxtrot at the nightly dances. I was pleased to see another glass ceiling broken when another woman takes on a job normally held by a man and with her excellent abilities she handles the job with ease and flair while still taking care of her other responsibilities. All the characters develop nicely over the course of the story but have plenty of room for growth as the series continues.
Catching the killer wasn’t easy. The author threw a good share of red herrings into the mix, including the owners of a nearby competing resort trying to put Haggerman’s out of business with some dirty deals, but would they murder a man to get ahead? The dead man himself was a mystery until his nephew enlightened Elizabeth and the authorities about his past history. Imagine the timeframe, there are no smartphones, internet, or computers. Solving a murder in 1953 entails actual legwork. knocking on doors, keeping your eyes and ears open, and physically chasing down clues. Ms. Delany plotted out a precise mystery that was so entertaining to follow.
Deadly Summer Nights was filled with interesting characters, some of which innocently brought some truly funny moments. The scene was idyllic for time and the story was filled with drama, friendship, history, mystery, and just a touch of romance. I did feel a little hit over the head with all the references to smoking, drawing the keen difference between the 1950s and the present day. That being said I still felt this story was a Perfect Escape. I was entertained by the whole story and am really looking forward to Deadly Director’s Cut that will be released early next year and my next trip to the Catskills.
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About Vicki Delany
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Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than forty books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea by the Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series for Crooked Lane Books, the Catskill Resort mysteries for Penguin Random House, and the Lighthouse Library series (as Eva Gates) for Crooked Lane.
Vicki is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It Crime Writing Festival. Her work has been nominated for the Derringer, the Bony Blithe, the Ontario Library Association Golden Oak, and the Arthur Ellis Awards. Vicki is the recipient of the 2019 Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to Canadian crime writing. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”