TRAVERSE CITY — Fans of Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s Emily Kincaid mysteries finally get to learn more about their favorite crusty deputy.
Deputy Dolly Wakowski, protagonist Emily’s cranky friend, is at the center of the series’ fifth book, “Dead Little Dolly.”
The book (Beyond the Page Publishing, $14.99 paperback, $2.99 eBook), may be the deepest and darkest yet — and not just because it has the friends scrambling to stay ahead of an assailant that threatens the only real family Dolly has ever had. Buzzelli also delves further into the background of Dolly, who grew up without advantages in orphanages and foster homes, and her unlikely friendship with Emily, an educated journalist getting over a divorce from her university-professor husband.
“They’ve grown in my own mind, in the book, in experience,” said Buzzelli, whose last mystery, “Dead Dogs and Englishmen” was a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2011. “And they’ve grown in their relationship. I love the fact that I can develop women’s relationships without the societal impact of having to be in your financial group or your educational group or your professional group. They can just be women who find other reasons to be friends.”
Like her creator, Emily lives on a small lake between Kalkaska and Mancelona and is building a new career as a mystery writer. Her first book, which she has yet to sell, is “Dead Dancing Women,” not coincidentally the title of Buzzelli’s first Emily Kincaid mystery.
As she struggles to make ends meet and to balance independence against loneliness, Emily gets caught up — often against her will — in Dolly’s cases. This time around, the friends have two clues to go on: the attacker’s trademark black jellybeans and a note to Dolly reading, “Thou Shalt Not Steal.”
Readers may recognize many of Buzzelli’s northern Michigan settings, from the Leetsville Cemetery, where the book begins, to the Lake Michigan waters off Norwood near Charlevoix, where it ends. Emily’s cabin and her roadkill-eating neighbor, Harry, are patterned after Buzzelli’s own.