Oliver Twisted (Ivy Meadows 3) by Cindy Brown

Please, sir, I want some more…

😀 😀 😀 😀

oliver twistedIvy Meadows is an actress part of the time and a private detective the rest of it. So when her PI boss, her Uncle Bob, is hired to investigate a series of thefts aboard a cruise ship, Ivy puts both her talents to use – detecting when she’s not playing Nancy in the Dickens-themed cruise’s production of Oliver! At Sea! But things take a serious turn almost as soon as she steps on board, when she finds the body of the girl she was due to share a cabin with stuffed into the wardrobe. It’s not clear how she died, but Ivy and Bob suspect murder and that in some way her death may be tied in to the thefts.

This is a fun romp, with a very likeable lead character in the shape of Ivy. Her career as a detective is just beginning, so she’s not what you’d think of as slick at it. Her technique is mainly to blurt out questions at people and hope they don’t wonder why she’s asking! But she’s intelligent and perceptive, curious about people in general, and endearingly aware of her own deficiencies. Fortunately she’s also attractive, both physically and personality-wise, so she soon builds up some on-board friendships that help her with her enquiries, while adding to the general fun.

The Dickens theme is done well, without taking itself too seriously. The cruise ship sounds frighteningly realistic with Boz’s Buffet, the Drood Deck, and fancy-dress parties where everyone dresses up as Dickens characters. The actors double as ‘ambient’ characters when they’re not on stage, so that Oliver wanders around picking the pockets of guests, while Madame Defarge knits scarves and an Eastern European Bill Sykes is mean to our Nancy (when he’s not flirting with her).

I must admit that, as has become one of my regular whines, I felt the book was a bit too long for its content, especially in the first half. It seemed to take forever for the investigation element to get underway, and I had to suspend an awful lot of disbelief that no formal investigation of the death seemed to be taking place. But when a second death happens about halfway through, things hot up, and the plot is actually rather darker than it seems as if it’s going to be. However, the general feeling is one of a well-written cosy.

Cindy Brown
Cindy Brown

There’s lots of humour in the book, and I appreciated this more as the book progressed and I found Ivy had won me over. If murder and theft aren’t enough, she also has to contend with the fact that her Uncle Bob seems to have fallen for a woman whom Ivy suspects of being a fortune hunter or worse. Oh, and then there’s the little matter that no-one thought to warn her of when she took the job as Nancy – that part of her task would be to perform aerial acrobatics 40 feet above the stage! The production of Oliver! At Sea! is largely ‘borrowed’ from the musical Oliver, with some strategic changes – songs such as Gruel, Glorious Gruel have an eerie familiarity! There’s also a touch of romance, but this isn’t allowed to overwhelm the book.

A very enjoyable cosy, better written than many in that genre, with a decent plot and some great characters. I can only echo Oliver himself… “Please, sir, I want some more!” It’s apparently the third in the series, each of which has a theatre theme, and I’ll be adding the other two to my list for those days when only something light-hearted and fun will do.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Henery Press.

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Book 7
Book 8

18 thoughts on “Oliver Twisted (Ivy Meadows 3) by Cindy Brown

  1. Oh, it does sound like lots of fun, FictionFan, if a bit too long. And what an interesting link of Oliver Twist and the cruise ship context. Oh, the cruise ship is such a great setting for a mystery. So many, many possibilities…. Glad you enjoyed it.


    • The too long thing is so universal at the moment that I should really try to stop whining about it – but I can’t! However otherwise this was very enjoyable, and I’d imagine that, having grown to like Ivy in this one, the other ones in the series will be just as much fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like a good read! I empathize with your feelings about stories being on the too-long side; perhaps a sub-plot would have been in order, something completely different from the main plot? Oh, well, nobody asked me. Have a splendid weekend, FF!!


    • I’d rather do away with the sub-plot and just have the books a bit shorter, but they all seem to be writing about a hundred or so pages more than I think they need at the moment, so it’s clearly what publishers must want. But despite that, this one was a lot of fun! You too, Debbie! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Light summer reading” – remember when that was an actual bookshop classification? Sounds just the thing for the beach – or a cruise, of course.


  4. This sounds like great fun and it’s good to see that Ivy won you over especially as it had a dreaded romantic element 😉 I find myself enjoying books that have a bit of humour more than I used to, maybe because such a lot of what I read is pretty grim!


    • Yes, I think the romance element works much better when the girl’s on a ship and the guy… isn’t! 😉 Humour can be quite hard – sometimes it works and sometimes it feels a bit forced, but in this one it felt quite natural. A nice break from some of the grimmer stuff!


  5. This sounds like a fun summer read. Though I have to laugh that people have so much time on their hands that they can take on two gigs: being an actor and a detective. I can barely walk and chew gum at the same time.


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