Well-Offed in Vermont
(Vermont Country Living #1)
by Amy Patricia Meade
Stella and Nick move from NYC to rural Vermont when Nick gets his dream job as a forest ranger. Within minutes of arriving at their newly purchased home, they discover a body in the well. Barred from their house by the investigation, they take refuge at a deer camp with no running water or electricity and decide to solve the murder so they can unload their moving truck and get settled in their new home.
It was hard for me to rate this book. On one hand, I loved the premise and the setting, but issues with the story detracted from my enjoyment. I call this a fixer-upper book; it needs a little work but it has great bones. There were many elements I enjoyed, from the leaf peepers (that bus had me laughing, I could easily picture the scene!) to the country store that has everything, including gossip. And the premise is what drew me in; making a move to Vermont and discovering a body in your well, yeesh! I just wish the book had lived up to its premise because it had everything it needed to be a great read, but it ended up falling short.
Although the eccentric townspeople gave the story a lot of flavor, I found I didn’t connect with the main characters. There wasn’t enough of Nick to form a bigger impression of who he is, but he was nice enough. On the other hand, Stella wasn’t nearly as engaging; she was condescending and her attempts at witty banter and friendliness felt forced and spurious. The pair of them reminded me of Michael and Stephanie on Newhart, it felt like they elevated themselves as being smarter and less eccentric than the rubes were, a trait I didn’t find particularly likeable or neighborly..
As for the investigating, it can be summed up as Stella and Nick annoying several townspeople with their questions, making assumptions, accusing people outright and then stumbling across the clues that solved the whole thing. I’ll say this, the one big clue that was overlooked when it was found and didn’t become relevant until the end was a good twist, but overall the investigation by Stella and Nick was lackluster. It wasn’t so much that anything they did solved it, they just kept guessing until the story fit.
Despite all the detractions, I did like the book. If Stella was more likeable, the story smoothed out and the ending jiggered into something more realistic, this would easily be a 5 star read. A big thank you to Netgalley and Beyond the Page books for the advance copy to read and review.
Published October 5th 2021 by Beyond the Page (first published November 1st 2011)