Review: Behind The Walls by Elaine Orr

Behind The WallsBehind The Walls by Elaine Orr, Sixth book in the Jolie Gentile Mystery Series 

Jolie Gentile, that lovable sleuth, never disappoints. She’s the protagonist in Elaine Orr’s Jolie Gentil Cozy Mystery Series. It takes place in and around Ocean Alley, a fictitious town on New Jersey’s coast.

In BEHIND THE WALLS, Jolie stumbles into a mystery and a murder when she buys a chest of drawers from an auctioneer for her newly purchased home blocks from the Shore. A drawer is missing, and that’s not all. Jolie encounters smooth-talking Clive Dorner, fresh from the city and hoping to scarf up bargain homes in Sandy’s wake. Meanwhile, when Jolie and Scoobie find hidden treasures behind a wall in her new home, the plot thickens.

In addition to Jolie, there are the usual cast of characters I’ve grown to love—Aunt Madge, the cranky Sergeant Morehouse, Scoobie, Lester, and George, Jolie’s erstwhile flame. And I won’t soon forget Elaine Orr’s depiction of the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy, bruised but not beaten, a character in its own right, adding a strong sense of place to this series. Of course my favorite character is Jolie Gentile, real estate appraiser with a facile mind and sparkling wit who cannot let go once she’s gotten hold of a mystery.
Adding to the character list is a memorable cast of animals including Pebbles the skunk (devoid of scent glands, thanks be) who befriends a homesick Jazz, Jolie’s cat. But the animals in Behind The Walls aren’t just window-dressing—they reflect what Jolie’s feeling and have a special role to play toward the end of the story.

BEHIND THE WALLS is light, captivating, entertaining and wonderfully written. It swept me away to a place I love. Throughout the book, I could hear the waves and the gulls and taste the taffy. Be careful, though, the story, which never strays from being a cozy, still has sudden twists and turns, destruction and death. And although the mystery is solved in the end, the story leaves us guessing about the fate of George and Jolie. Will they ever get together again?

From the first page I delighted in this whodunit, in watching endearing characters struggle or romp through Elaine Orr’s magical words onto pages full of humor, suspense and surprise. If you like tightly plotted cozy mysteries, don’t miss this series. I’ve read four of them and plan to read the rest.

My rating: 5 Stars

Elaine OrrAbout the author: Elaine L. Orr has written, edited, and published for more than 30 years in business and popular fields. In addition to writing, she also does presentations on writing-related topics such as
electronic publishing and using social media to promote books.

Fiction includes short stories, novellas, and novels.  The Jolie Gentil Cozy Mystery series debuted in 2011, and the five books in the series have garnered good reviews (and sales!).  Elaine has also written screenplays, and her play, Permission to Hope, received a staged reading at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Biding Time was one of five finalists in the National Press Club’s first fiction contest, in 1993.

Nonfiction book-length works includes Monett (Arcadia Publishing), Caring for Treasures: Helping Your Parents Through Life and Death and Words to Write By: Putting Your Thoughts on PaperCaring for Treasures was revised and reissued in 2012. In 2011 she published Orr, Campbell, Mitchell and Shirley Families: Descendants of Paul Orr and Isabelle Boyd in Ireland and America.

A disciplined freelance writer and editor, Elaine’s more recent nonfiction can be found on Yahoo Voices.

Elaine graduated from the University of Dayton with a BA in Political Science and from the
American University with an MA in Government. She has done journalism coursework at the
University of Maryland and taken many fiction courses from The Writer’s Center in Bethesda,
MD, Georgetown University’s Continuing Education Program, the University of Iowa Summer
Writing Program, and Midwest Writers Workshop.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime.

Behind The Walls can be found on AmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords. Find out more about her on her website, elaineorr.com

Why Write a Mystery Series?

My guest  is Sandra Nikolai, award-winning author of the Megan Scott/Michael Elliott mystery series. Today she answers a question that interests many of us. It address the deep-down question of why some authors are compelled to write mysteries, and it hints at the mesmerizing nature of mystery stories. I for one, can attest to the spellbinding nature of Sandra’s books—I just can’t put them down. Here’s Sandra.

SandraNikolai_SRA blogWhy Write a Mystery Series?

As any TV soap opera enthusiast would attest, a continuing series about people who deal with all sorts of issues in their everyday lives attracts a loyal audience. The more we get to know our favorite soap characters, the more we understand their feelings, their needs, and their hopes, and the more we empathize with them when they encounter problems. In the same way, we cheer on our favorite dancer, singer, chef, or team in a reality competition series and cringe when they experience a setback. We’re mere spectators in these events, but because we feel a kindred connection to these people, we’re curious about them and get emotionally involved with their lives. In other words, we want to see “what happens next” to them.

Similarly, a mystery draws us into the story by introducing us to protagonists whose personalities we can connect with. As we get to know these sleuths, we learn about their concerns—personal and otherwise—and form an emotional bond with them. We share their determination in solving the whodunit and tracking down the killer. We keep our eyes open for clues and hope our sleuths do too. We walk with them down dark alleys and hold our collective breaths, aware that danger lurks in the shadows. We feel immediate gratification when the perpetrator is caught and justice is served, due in part to the fact that we’ve bonded with our heroes.

That bond is strengthened when the storyline includes personal growth of the main characters. Here’s an example.

False Impressions_SRA_blogIn my first mystery novel, False Impressions, I used a realistic world in which my two sleuths could live, work, play, and pursue the bad guys. Megan Scott leads an organized lifestyle and works behind the scenes as a ghostwriter. Michael Elliott is an investigative reporter. His work involves an irregular work schedule, impromptu meetings with shady informants at all hours of the night, and nerves of steel. Megan and Michael perceive and handle issues differently, which can cause potential conflict between them. But that’s okay. As in real life, conflict changes how the characters think and act, and readers expect change. It’s what connects them emotionally with the characters and maintains their curiosity about what will happen next.

Will the sleuths’ investigative work interfere with their relationships with family and friends? Will romance play a role in their lives? Will increased danger intensify the risks when they investigate the next murder?

These questions prompted me to write my second mystery novel in the series, Fatal Whispers, thereby ensuring the continuity of my two main characters. But even I don’t know what will happen next until my sleuths choose to tell me.

About the Author:

SANDRA NIKOLAI graduated from McGill University in Montreal and worked in sales, finance, and high tech before devoting her days to writing. She is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and has published a dozen short stories online and in print, garnering honorable mentions along the way.

Fatal Whispers July 15False Impressions and Fatal Whispers are the first two novels in a mystery series featuring ghostwriter Megan Scott and investigative reporter Michael Elliott. When not plotting mysteries, Sandra shares her thoughts and experiences about the writing world on her blog and has been a frequent guest writer on other websites. She lives near Ottawa with her husband and is currently at work on her next mystery novel in the series.

Where to find Sandra’s books:

Amazon Author Page

Smashwords

Barnes&Noble

How to contact Sandra:

Website

Facebook

Twitter @sandranikolai