Author: Nicole Kimberling
Publisher: Loose Id
Pages/Word Count: 461 Pages
At a Glance: A little intrigue and a fair amount of humor gives the Bellingham Mystery series its flavor.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: To celebrate the upcoming sixth book in the Bellingham Mysteries series, we’re offering the first five together in one boxed set. If you haven’t read the romance of Nick and Peter that began in Primal Red, you’re going to want to pick up this boxed set today.
The story begins:
Peter Fontaine is a reporter writing for a free weekly newspaper in the quirky little town of Bellingham. Nick Olson is a reclusive painter with questionable past and a studio in the Vitamilk Building. Peter has a knack for choosing to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In this case that place is the Vitamilk Building and the time is the moment that Shelley Vine, local art professor and rising star of the art world, is stabbed to death.
Determined to understand why Vine was killed, and convinced that breaking the story could jumpstart his career as an investigative journalist, Peter begins his own investigation into her death. As Peter uncovers more information about Vine, Olson, and the interconnected lives of the rest of the artists at the Vitamilk Building, he finds himself falling in love with Nick.
Peter wants a story but he also wants Nick, and it looks like he’s going to have to make a choice before the two can paint the town Primal Red.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Small-town Pacific Northwest reporter Peter Fontaine wants to level up. A job offer in Austin seems to be the answer to his prayers, but there’s one catch: his boyfriend, Nick Olson–artist, recluse, and snow-loving outdoorsman.
When Peter agrees to go to the Freezing Man snow sculpture competition, he thinks he’s going to get a lesson in making love in a hollowed-out snowball in the woods. He thinks he’ll either find a way to convince Nick to come to the Lone Star State or be forced to say goodbye. But one frozen corpse derails Peter’s personal plans entirely…
Black Cat Ink
Small-town reporter Peter Fontaine has a cherry job, a hunky artist boyfriend, and an insatiable lust for rooting out the truth. In this third installment of the Bellingham Mysteries, he and Nick must try to recover a stolen statue in time to host their big Halloween party.
The catch? The statue was created by Nick’s ex lover, and to find the culprit, Peter must first delve into Nick’s past. Will Peter’s slutty nurse costume be enough incentive for Nick to come clean about his life before Peter?
One Man’s Treasure
Four years ago, Peter Fontaine made a name for himself as Bellingham, Washington’s premiere investigative reporter. Since then he’s got an award, a cat and good-looking artist to come home to every night.
Nick Olson, Peter’s long-suffering lover, has a lot of reasons for wanting Peter to stop investigating the many and varied crimes committed in the City of Subdued Excitement. Peter’s nasty habit of getting held at gunpoint by lunatics has Nick wondering if any story is worth losing the man he’s decided to “everything-but-marry.”
But when a famous ceramic artist drops dead at the Bellingham Farmer’s Market, Nick agrees to help Peter dig deep to unearth the secret rivalries and dirty deeds done at Green Goddess Farms. And then they’re going to have another long talk about these bad habits of Peter’s.
Birds of a Feather
Peter Fontaine just wants to get married. He’s got a willing man, a house, a cat, and the official permission of the State of Washington. Everything should be peachy, but weddings mean guests and guests bring the magic of friends and family–the enthusiastic, the vengeful, and the weird.
But figuring out a seating chart that won’t result in homicide isn’t Peter’s only problem. He’s a reporter and reporters need stories. Fortunately Peter has one. When he finds a dead, dismembered bald eagle near his home, he’s on the case. As guests converge upon his home, Peter searches the county for the person responsible…
Review: Never let it be said I don’t love a good mystery. Also, never let it be said I don’t love a sassy journalist who likes to inner-monologue-narrate the events in his life—everything from a good news story to romanticizing his not-quite-fairy-tale romance with artist Nick Olson. Why did I love this? Because I’ve written more stuff in my head while doing the most mundane things than I can count, and, on some level, I could relate to Peter’s love of composing things that, in most cases, will never see the light of day. That along with his sense of humor were clinchers in my enjoyment of this set of novellas.
Set in the eclectic little city of Bellingham, in Washington state, a place that teeters between art community, salt-of-the earth farmland folk, and a rather less savory element, we first meet Peter on the stakeout that will change his life…for better or worse. Mostly better. When he enters the VitaMilk building with the dual purpose of getting a story and asking Nick on a date, he finds the artist-cum-boyfriend up to his elbows in a dead woman’s blood, which sets the tone for the rest of the series—not that Nick is continually suspected of murder but that Peter has a knack for continually finding himself in troublesome situations because he’s never met a mystery he didn’t want to investigate. I have to be honest and say that I thought Peter a bit of an arse at the outset of Primal Red—his “anything for a story” journalistic bent led him to be not altogether too straightforward with Nick, which didn’t do much to help that opinion, but these being novella length stories, it didn’t take him long to redeem himself or my estimation of his character. Then he was just snarky, and that I loved him for.
Each novella in this collection is a new mystery—mystery-lite, if you will, as the word count doesn’t allow for all sorts of deep and intricate intrigues—and once the perpetrator is collared, there isn’t a lot of wrap up to the crimes. I liked this about the books, though, because they fit the series setting. Bellingham isn’t a major metropolis. In fact, you get the feeling there’s only about six degrees of separation between the city’s entire population, so the smallish town mystery vibe rang entirely true. I loved Peter’s involvement in the investigation of the crimes, as a journalist for a left-leaning free newspaper run by a man who is himself a bit of a conspiracy theorist. I got the feeling that journalism ethics ran the gamut at The Hamster (short for The Bellinghamster), from never revealing a source to somewhat loosey goosey, which is why Peter’s shenanigans, and Nick’s constant need to play rescuer, made the crimes fun.
As for the relationship that develops between Peter and Nick, I wouldn’t classify this series as Romance, in that we don’t get a deep exploration of the growing feelings between them. In some ways, the two of them just kind of…are. They just suit each other so well, and though we don’t get hours of deep dialogue, or lingering looks into their feelings, or paragraphs and pages of emotional outpourings, Kimberling gives us enough to make their relationship real and believable. It’s their chemistry, plain and simple, and I loved them together as a team, both before and after they made it all legal.
I think there was a benefit to being able to read all these novellas back-to-back in this boxed set. Read individually and with months in between releases, I’m not sure that Peter and Nick would’ve grown on me in quite the same way because the stories are so short and the mysteries do take center stage. The same goes for Bellingham itself and all the side characters who make their way into and out of Nick and Peter’s lives—Peter’s BFF Evangeline is as great as Nick’s ex’s son Bradley is heinous. I did feel the editing could’ve been a little cleaner for stories that were so short, but apart from a niggle or two along the way, I’d say that if you like a little mystery, a little humor, a little eccentricity, and a couple of guys who fall in love while getting into and out of all sorts of trouble, Nicole Kimberling delivers.
You can buy Bellingham Mysteries: The Boxed Set here: