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Of course, when I reviewed Everybody Loved Roger Harden and Everybody Wanted Room 623, you knew it was inevitable that the final book of Cecil Murphey’s ‘cozy mysteries’ would also find its way into these spaces. But even if I hadn’t read the first two, I believe this one would’ve shown up anyway. ‘Cuz, as the A1 Steak Sauce people say, “Yeah…it’s that good.”*
In this final installment, our heroic duo, Julie West and James Burton, embark on an Antarctic voyage at the request of their mutual friend, psychiatrist Twila Belk. Startling to discover, Julie and Burton aren’t on speaking terms. Mm hmm, something has happened since Room 623 that has sent Julie through the ceiling and she has broken their engagement. More on this later.
Early in the voyage, Twila is murdered. This presented me with a problem. In real life, Twila Belk—yes, Cec did it again; he killed off a friend—is Mr. Murphey’s esteemed assistant. The delightful Ms. Belk is actually the person who sent me the book. Which, in and of itself is fine; however, when I read of her demise on the first page…and then looked down at the return address on the envelope in which the book arrived…well, it was a little eerie. You get it, right? Enough on that.
As I said prior to digressing, early in the voyage, Twila is murdered. Clearly, the only possible suspect is among the other 45 passengers on the ship, all of whom are friends and/or patients—former and current—of Twila’s. No coincidence; Twila had chartered the boat and paid everyone’s passage, for one reason or another. So, as we’d expect, with the unofficial blessing of the ship’s captain, Julie and Burton set about investigating the murder. This, of course, is complicated by their strained relationship, which they have to shelve to do honor to Twila’s memory.
Mr. Murphey succeeds in pulling off another intricate whodunit, again in the first-person through Julie’s eyes. The gripper of this tale, though, has nothing to do with the investigation, or even with Twila’s murder. It has to do with Julie and Burton. If you read my review of Roger Harden, you’ll recall each person on the island had a secret known only to Roger and the respective individual. During that investigation, everyone’s secret came to light. Everyone’s except Burton’s. It’s this secret that, when he tells it to Julie, unravels their relationship. Want to know what it is? Hah!
You. Will. Never. Guess. This. One.
If you read either of the first two cozy mysteries, you’ll leave this earth at the end of your life incomplete unless you’ve read Everybody Called Her a Saint. If you haven’t read either of the first two, you can still enjoy this final mystery—but you’ll be oh-so-much-happier to have read Roger Harden and Room 623, first.
Yeah…they’re all that good.
* Yes, yes, I know the A1 slogan is actually, “Yeah, it’s that important.” Allow me a little artistic license, would you, please?