Wednesday, December 28, 2022

You Light Up My Death by Mary Jane Maffini

First Line: It would have been the honeymoon from hell, if we'd actually had a wedding.
Ottawa lawyer and victims' advocate Camilla MacPhee has finally agreed to elope with her long-time partner, Sergeant Ray Deveau. Loaded down with gifts from her bossy sisters to family members in the Cape Breton area as well as a smelly dog and a little calico cat, Camilla should be on her way to Happily Ever After, right?

For some unknown reason during the 1,000-mile journey, Ray's attitude changes, and Camilla finds herself abandoned with a dog and a cat... but without a vehicle, luggage, wallet, or fiancé.

When Ray's brand-new car is found an hour away with the keys still in it, and his phone is found on the street, Camilla bottles up her anger and begins a desperate search along the spectacular Cabot Trail with the help of a collection of eccentric relatives and locals. People are dying, and Camilla is determined that Ray is not going to be one of them.


I've been brave in the past few years and have begun jumping midstream into mystery series with generally favorable results, but after reading You Light Up My Death, I would not suggest doing that with this one. With no former knowledge of Camilla MacPhee and her fiancé Ray Deveau, I found myself thoroughly disgusted with Ray's behavior, and not too fond of Camilla either. But I soldiered on because I trust Mary Jane Maffini, and once I was able to overcome my lack of series familiarity, Maffini delivered as I knew she would.

Maffini made me want to travel the Cabot Trail (under better weather conditions), and the helpfulness of the area's residents reminded me of the area where I grew up. Camilla's wacky relatives, Donald Donnie and Auntie Annie chief among them, made me laugh, and the mysteries surrounding Camilla's mother and Ray's disappearance kept my little grey cells busy. If only the book's title didn't constantly remind me of an earworm from decades past! 

Did my rocky beginning with Camilla MacPhee sound a death knell to the entire series? No. Mary Jane Maffini saved the day, as I knew she would, and I have a feeling that Camilla and I will meet again.

You Light Up My Death by Mary Jane Maffini
ISBN: 9781990896019
Ottawa Press & Publishing © 2022
Paperback, 272 pages
Amateur Sleuth, #7 Camilla MacPhee mystery
Rating: B+
Source: the author, in exchange for an honest review.


  1. You highlight one of the big issues when it comes to series, Cathy. How do you welcome new readers to what may be the middle of the series, while still keeping regular readers happy and not boring them with repetitive detail? Still, the premise sounds interesting, and the setting seems quite vivid.

  2. There is a definite art to writing books in a series so that readers who come in after the beginning can easily pick up what they need to understand and enjoy. Some writers (and their editors) are very good at it while others sort of leave you floundering. It sounds like this writer was able to pull it off successfully.

  3. I love that first line! But it's good to know not to jump into this series with this particular book. But the setting and mystery sure sounds fun. :D

  4. Sounds like an interesting book What intrigues me most is the setting.
    Wow, did I have to wrestle with Google, and this blog is listed under my name at the Google sign-up.

    1. Thank you for your continuing persistence, since there is little I can do to thwart Google. :-(

  5. I thank my grandmother for my persistence. Never give up. And if one way doesn't work, go around it. I'll stay up until all hours playing the NY Times word games now until I reach the goal.


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