Title: Pentimento Blues (Bellingham Mysteries: Book Six)
Author: Nicole Kimberling
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 98 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Mystery
At a Glance: This series is a really good bit of reading entertainment, and while I’m feeling sentimental that it’s over, the end was well worth the wild little trip to the Pacific Northwest.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: The Final Mystery
Now that small-town reporter Peter Fontaine has gotten hitched to the man of his dreams, he thinks his days of solving crimes are over. But after a decades-old secret is revealed, a dead body is found and Peter’s husband Nick is at the top of the suspect list. Peter must harness his power of ultimate nosiness to find one last killer.
Review: Where Peter Fontaine goes, trouble is sure to follow, and I’m sad that Pentimento Blues is the final novella in Nicole Kimberling’s delightful Bellingham Mysteries series. This book serves as a reminder of everything there will be to miss about both the series and its characters. First of all, there’s Bellingham, Washington (which I count as a character), where the number of murderers per capita seems inordinately high, which only adds to the city’s interest—especially since its unofficial motto is the City of Subdued Excitement. What’s not to love about the concept of murder and chill in the PNW?
One of the things I’m going to miss most, of course, is Peter’s inner narratives. As an investigative journalist for the Hamster, and an amateur sleuth to boot, he not only gives his stoner boss, Doug, some grief, but he has a wealth of inspiration to draw from when sowing the seeds of his fertile imagination. He hasn’t written the great American novel—yet—but the tendency to compose in his head, and his drunk daydream in Pentimento, are each a comical reminder that there’s more than just the mysteries for him to solve in these novellas. Not to be outdone in the humor department, though, is Peter’s best friend, Evangeline. She’s just that quirky and original, and I’ve loved playing witness to their friendship. It kinda makes you want to tag along as their third wheel—but then you’re also a little be afraid that you just aren’t interesting or cool enough to hang with them. Or, maybe that’s just me.
Then there’s Nick Olsen, the love of Peter’s life. Nick has never been what you’d call an open book, and is a little (okay, a lot) moody and broody and temperamental. But he’s an artist, so he gets a pass. If someone isn’t out to get Peter, giving Nick a reason to rush in and save the day, then there’s someone out to get Nick himself (these guys are trouble magnets). When the past comes back to bite Nick on the buttocks in this installment, it ends badly for his blackmailer and leaves Peter wondering, albeit it momentarily, if his husband is capable of murder. Don’t worry, though; even this development spins into Peter’s version of romantic.
Pentimento Blues, like the other books in the series, are more mystery-lite than heavy on the investigative procedural, but we readers get just enough of the criminal element to have fun watching Peter snoop his way into danger while helping solve the crime. I love that he sort of oopsie daisies his way into solving this one, and that I didn’t know exactly who’d committed the crime until the exact moment Peter figured it out. I also love that Nicole Kimberling gives readers the opportunity to have some sympathy for the killer, and I really love the moral ambiguity of it. It makes me feel a little dirty to say the victim kind of had it coming, but I can say it with a figurative level of comfort because, hey, that’s some nice writing in my humble opinion.
If you haven’t started reading this series yet, don’t try to begin here. While each novella is its own neat little mystery, the development of Peter and Nick’s romance should be savored from book one, Primal Red, and then working your way through from there. The storytelling here is uncluttered, the characters flawed and funny, the setting the perfect mix of homey and eclectic, and Kimberling’s prose is just so easy to lose yourself in for a while. This series is a really good bit of reading entertainment, and while I’m feeling sentimental that it’s over, the end was well worth the wild little trip to the Pacific Northwest.
You can buy Pentimento Blues here: