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Murder in the Worst Degree
by F.M. Meredith
Dark Oak Mysteries
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The body that washes up on the beach leads Detectives Milligan and Zachary on a murder investigation that includes the victim’s family members, his housekeeper, three long-time friends, and a mystery woman.
F.M. Meredith has outdone herself with Murder in the Worst Degree. I have enjoyed this series ever since I read my first one, but this is the very best one yet. All the familiar characters return. their lives continue to change and progress. When an elderly man’s body washes up on the beach at Rocky Bluff, the police begin their investigation, only to discover he was already dead before his body went into the water. In addition, a rapist strikes. As always, all the plot lines are completed, and the ending is very satisfying. This is a great read and highly recommended.
This is my first review ever. I received an ARC of Murder in the Worst Degree yesterday and read it in one sitting. I really enjoyed the book. It was the tenth in a series but I was able to enjoy it without reading the first 9. It was the type of book I really like, a police procedural with their home lives included. Makes me want to read the other books in the series to see how they all ended up where they are.
--Cheryl Stoeser in DorothyL
Truly and interesting, good quick read. (It probably took me all of 6 hours tops to read it.) This action packed police procedure mystery was well plotted, well written and most enjoyable. So wonderful to find an author that doesn't need 300 pages plus to really write an entertaining novel!
And, even though this is 10th in a series - this is the first I've read and would recommend to anyone who likes to read!
--Lynn Demsky in DorothyL
Although Murder in the Worst Degree is the tenth book in F.M. Meredith’s Rocky Bluff PD series, you don’t need to have read the nine previous novels to pick up on the action. I think the several characters would’ve been easier to keep track of if you’d read the earlier books, though, so this is a hint that you might want to read a couple of those first. It doesn’t take long before you learn who is who, however. And you'll find the setting—the California coast—so vividly depicted you can almost taste the salt air. I loved the foggy scenes.
The story begins with a couple surfer dudes discovering the battered body of an elderly man in the water. Turns out he didn’t drown, which brings a murder investigation to the fore. Suspects are rampant. The men and women of the Rocky Bluff PD are soon knee deep in not only contending with the murder, but with a new chief of police, and what may be a serial rapist on the loose. Then an earthquake hits. Good stuff, for sure.
F.M. Meredith ties up all the loose ends concerning the mysteries, and doesn’t neglect the drama of her character’s lives in this most enjoyable short novel.
By cherylr620 on March 6, 2014
I knew it would be a winner! After each chapter, I thought I had figured out who did it, but Marilyn tripped me up. This is a must read and I'm ready for the next one.. Thanks, MM, for the advanced copy.
5 Stars Exceptional
By Evelyn Cullet on March 5, 2014
Murder in the Worse Degree is the latest novel in the Rocky Bluff Mystery Series. While I haven't read all of them, I have read quite a few and they were all good, but this is one story I especially liked. Ms. Meredith knows how to write a solid mystery with interesting characters, and this time she threw in a clever twist at the end that I wasn't expecting, but in my opinion, made the story exceptional. I recommend this novel to all mystery lovers.
5 Stars great murder mystery
By Willow on February 12, 2014
I was lucky enough to get an advanced Readers Edition of this book, for an honest review.
I must say I really enjoyed this fast paced story. From the first page I was filled with excitement of a good murder. Full of twists and turns and suspense.
Murder in the Worst Degree is #10 in the series but reads as a stand alone book. I will be reading the rest of the series in the near future.
In real life, police seldom have the benefit of being able to concentrate on one case at a time. F. M. Meredith realistically depicts this in her mystery series.
Her cops in this particular book are dealing with the body of an elderly man found washed up on a beach, a serial rapist whose attacks appear to be escalating, plus an assortment of drug deals, auto accidents and other minor incidents. At the same time, the officers have the normal run of family concerns, love interests and adjustments to a new chief of police.
If all that isn’t enough to keep them on their toes, Meredith throws in an earthquake to add a bit more tension.
This is the 10th in the Rocky Bluff PD series, but it isn’t necessary to have read the preceding books to enjoy this fast-paced, well-plotted addition. I’d be willing to wager if you haven’t read the earlier books, this one will incline you to seek them out. –John Lindermuth
Except for the dead body washed up on the sand, conditions were perfect for surfing. Thanks to a big storm coming from Alaska, spectacular waves rolled in. They rose in dark blue-gray splendor with a magnificent header of sparkling foam before they crashed and rolled toward shore. Another set of perfect waves formed right behind.
Two young males garbed in black wet suits stood a few feet away from the corpse. Colorful surfboards stood in the sand. Towels and personal items lay nearby.
Officer Gordon Butler from the Rocky Bluff P.D. had been patrolling along the beach front because of the unusual high surf. He was the first to respond to the dispatcher’s call of a body on the beach.
Gordon parked his blue-and-white patrol car on the broken asphalt of the parking area near the condemned pier. The only other car around was an old station wagon with the back window open. Gordon left his car and trudged through the sand—not easy in shoes.
One of the young surfers ran up to Gordon. “Oh, man, thank God you’re here. This is so gross. I was surfing and this body was in the wave with me. At first, I thought it was a pile of rags. We came ashore at the same time.” His shuddered, pulled off his hood and shook out his long blon hair.
“Did anyone touch the body?”
“Are you kidding? It’s yucky.”
“Good.” Once Gordon was close enough to see the corpse, there was no need to make sure the person was dead. Wrapped in seaweed and what appeared to be the remnants of sodden and torn clothing, the body appeared to be that of an elderly male.
Using his portable radio, Gordon made a call to the station, reporting his location and his find. He requested the detectives and the coroner be sent to the scene.
“Why the detectives?” the dispatcher asked.
“I’ve got a pretty good idea about the identity of the corpse. I doubt seriously he drowned while swimming.”
As he waited for the detectives, Gordon took down the surfers’ names and phone numbers. Both had the same story. They’d come to this seldom used beach to take advantage of the big waves where no one was around to interfere or chase them off.
The shorter of the two surfers who identified himself as Joey said, “Dude, this is kind of cool. Never saw a dead body before.”
“When do you think we can go back in the water?” Brandon, the blond, flipped his long wet hair. “Surf like this doesn’t come around here often.”
“Once the detectives talk to you and the body is removed you’re on your own.”
“How long is that going to take?” Brandon stared at the huge waves.
“A half hour or so.” Gordon hoped he was right.
Within minutes, Detective Doug Milligan and the newly-appointed Detective Felix Zachary drove up in an unmarked sedan. Milligan’s longtime partner, Frank Marshall, left soon after Chief McKinsey’s retirement. Some said Marshall did it because of the new chief and her ideas about how the department should be run. Doug tried to assure everyone that his partner had been talking about retirement for a while, and with the change at the top, it seemed like a good time for him to do it.
Milligan climbed out of the driver’s side and Zachary the other. Both strode toward Gordon with their jackets blowing open, exposing their shoulder holsters and the badges on their belts. When they came close to Gordon, Milligan spoke loud enough to be heard over the pounding surf. “What have we got?”
“My guess it’s the missing man we’ve been looking for. I didn’t get close enough to see the face, but the corpse has white hair and looks like an elderly person,” Gordon said.
For four days, the department had been on the alert for a missing senior who wandered away from home. His relatives stated he’d been failing mentally in the last few months and they feared for his safety. There was some speculation about the circumstances because they hadn’t reported the man missing right away.
Before his disappearance, Harlan Knight resided in one of the oldest and at one time the finest house in Rocky Bluff, until more modern homes were built in the development on top of the bluff. His family had been among the founders of the beach community in the late 1800’s. A couple of his relatives still lived in the family residence.
The wind ruffled Milligan’s short dark hair as he walked over to the two surfers who now had towels draped over their shoulders, “Tell me what happened here.”
Brandon, the blond said, “I was surfing and this body came in on the same wave with me.” He shuddered.
“Was there anyone else around when you arrived here?”
“No, just us. We planned to surf for a while before going to school.” Brandon stared at the sand. “Time got away from us.”
Detective Zachary, big, muscular and one of two African Americans on the RBPD—theother being the new chief--gazed out at the ocean. “Great surfing conditions.”
Joey grinned. “Yeah, we came down at six this morning.”
“Once word gets out about the size of the surf, there’ll be a crowd out here.” Brandon shifted his bare feet in the sand.
“They’ve begun to descend on the other beaches already,” Gordon said. “I’ve been checking them out. Hope we don’t have problems since we don’t have lifeguards on duty this time of year.”
By mid-October, the beaches were usually visitor-free except for those who liked to jog on the wet sand and a few folks who liked to commune with the sea. Most local surfers frequented the beaches closer to Santa Barbara and Ventura.
The detectives asked the young men a few more questions before Milligan made a suggestion. “Why don’t you drive to some other spot to surf? That way you won’t have to wait for the coroner to come before you can get back in the water. We’ll get in touch if we need to ask you anything else.”
Looking relieved, the surfers gathered their boards and fins and hurried toward their station wagon. Gordon suspected they were surprised they weren’t told to go to school.
Detective Milligan turned to Gordon. “Go ahead and write your report about finding the body, then go back to work.”
Gordon felt disappointed that he would no longer be a part of the investigation even though it happened this way all the time. “Right.”
As he turned to leave, Milligan said, “For what it’s worth, Butler, I think you’re right about the identity of the body.”
Gordon smiled. He knew Milligan had told him that because they were friends.
“I’ll keep you posted about what we find out.”
“Thanks, Detective.” Gordon nodded and headed for his car. He’d always hoped that one day he’d make detective and could be Doug Milligan’s partner, but that probably would never happen. In fact, thing never worked out for Gordon the way he hoped.