Sunday, July 25, 2021

Review: Much Ado about Nauticaling by Gabby Allan

Much Ado about Nauticaling by Gabby Allan
Series: Whit and Whiskers Mystery, Book 1
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Mystery 
Much Ado about Nauticaling cover
ISBN: 9781496731067
Release Date: July 27, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Whitney Dagner is your tour guide to a Pacific paradise that’s to die for—only to find it’s a place people are also willing to kill for—in Gabby Allan’s Much Ado About Nauticaling, first in the Whit and Whiskers Mystery series.

After far too many years in the Los Angeles corporate world, Whitney Dagner has come home to Santa Catalina Island off the California coast to help her brother Nick run Nautically Yours, the family tourism business. Between gift shop shifts selling all manner of T-shirts and tchotchkes and keeping her feline Whiskers in fine fettle, she pilots the Sea Bounder, a glass bottom boat showing tourists the underwater sights of aquatic plants, marine life—and a murder victim?

The self-proclaimed “Master of the Island,” Jules Tisdale was a wealthy man with business interests throughout Catalina who was about to be honored as Person of the Year before someone strangled him with his own tie and tossed his body into the water. That someone appears to be Nick, who had a raw deal from Jules and no alibi the night of his murder. To clear her brother’s name, Whit will have to investigate Jules’ shady associates and not exactly grief-stricken family members—with the unwelcome help of Felix Ramirez, police diver and Whit’s ex-boyfriend who’s looking to rekindle their relationship.

Much Ado about Nauticaling is a breezy mystery with likeable characters and a fast pace. I wanted to love Gabby Allan’s first Whit and Whiskers story, but I had too many issues with the characters’ actions and the plot.

Like many a cozy mystery protagonist, Whitney doesn’t go looking for murder victims – they seem to find her. In this case, it’s Catalina’s “Person of the Year” Jules whose body floats on by under the window of her glass bottom boat. It’s a tragedy made worse when Whit’s brother is suspected of the crime. Whitney is determined to clear Nick’s name and catch the real killer. So far it’s all part of the cozy mystery formula and I was ready to go for a ride (albeit one with a slow start). The problem for me was Whitney’s methods of investigation. Mainly, that to say she lacks subtlety is an enormous understatement. She pretty much tells all and sundry what she’s doing, what her thoughts are… without spoiling it I’ll simply say there’s amateur sleuth and then there’s outright ridiculousness.

Whit is helped on her fact-finding mission by a number of townsfolk, some perhaps with their own motives (not always clearly defined). Her most trusted compatriots are her ex-boyfriend and best friend, Felix and Maribel, both of whom are likeable but not incredibly well-defined. I had some questions about both of them and their roles in the investigation, especially since they both worked for the police. Suspending disbelief aside, I do wish they had more to contribute (especially Felix who looks to be a fun character if we learn more about him). The mystery of who killed Jules and why is OK and wraps up in a satisfying enough manner, but there were a lot of loose threads left hanging. Some of these perhaps will continue in another book but I think there are some red herrings in here that flopped because there was no resolution.

Much Ado about Nauticaling fell flat for me but I would give the next book in the series a try. The setting was charming (murder aside) and there’s the potential for the characters to grow and become more engaging. Plus, there’s an adorable cat who steals the show – how could I not give Whiskers another chance?

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.