Friday, January 11, 2013

Bea and Ben Return and All Murderesses are Poisoners

   First Paragraph:

 "If there's one thing I hate, it's a messy guest at the Bard's Bed & Breakfast. Oh, I'm not talking about the people who leave wet towels on the floor of the bedroom, when there's a perfectly good linen hamper in the en suite bathroom, any more that I'm talking about the guests who like to spice up their romantic interludes with whipped cream between the Egyptian cotton sheets I launder for them. I'm talking about the visitors who bring their plug ugly baggage with them when they come to stay."

A Plague O' Both Your Houses by Sara Barton is book 2 in the Bard's Bed and Breakfast Mystery Series.

A quick warning, this review will contain spoilers from the first book (as is the nature of a series). If you're interested you can check out my review of Let Slip the Dogs of War here:

Anyway, spoilers beyond here, so continue at your own peril.

Returning to the Bard's the story this time centres around Linda Romano- a retired CIA agent, who specialised in chemical and biological warfare. To be accurate, her job was to find antidotes, but to know how to cure it, she needed to know how it was created. Linda is a crotchety, old woman dying of lupus and plagued with the inability to treat anyone with a shred of decency. She has a nurse (the lovely Manie from Jamaica) to care for her round the clock and cater to her every need. 

Linda is at the Bard's to live out her final days in peace and comfort. Being an ex-CIA agent, they set her up at a CIA specialising B&B, much to Bea's chagrin.

Bea and Ben are their usual selves and are still bickering constantly. In this book, we are joined by the Turkmani sisters, Fatima and Wardah- going by the aliases of Emma and Rosalind (Rosie for short) respectively. It's been a few months since the events of the first book and the girls have started at school, while their mother recuperates in Boston and their father fights his brother in Syria.

Again, terrorism is the plot here. When a letter that Linda sends off get intercepted by the CIA, claiming she's poisoned someone, the Bard's is soon filled with CIA agents from around the globe (all undercover of course) to find out the truth, most of which we are kept in the dark about. But then they are spies. Is the devious plot Linda's devised as simple as it appears, or is there a more sinister plan at hand?

In my review of the first book I said it was almost too fast-paced. In this book, that problem's gone. We have some nice down-time in between all the action (which definitely builds this time), though a lot of it is information about the first book. There's a lot of deja vu as we re-read the first story in small chunks. I know it's a recap, but it's almost as if we're expected to have forgotten everything about the first book. We do get some nice extras though, giving us a little more information we didn't know about the characters or events from the first book. I was a little sad that there was virtually no mention of Yuri, but maybe he'll be in a another book, provided the series continues. And we do get a few tidbits about the mysterious Afari.

We also have a more complete ending and I can feel the books getting better as the series progresses. Again, I did enjoy this book, perhaps even more than the first. I preferred the plot of the first, but I prefer pretty much everything else about the second.

If you liked the first, you'll like this second book. If you didn't like the first, maybe give this one a try- why not? The series certainly has a charm about it that keeps me following its progress. I can't help but wonder- what dastardly plan will be the plot of the third book I wonder?

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

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