Smell of Death, # 4 in the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series

 The first inkling of an idea for this one came from my police officer son-in-law who said, "Movies and books never let you know how awful death smells." Of course from there, my imagination leaped ahead.

Blurb: Officer Stacey Wilbur is the first on the scene of too many homicide. A missing child, strange burglaries, the murder of a mother and her daughter disrupt the peaceful beach community of Rocky Bluff. Officer Stacey Wilbur assists Doug Milligan with the investigations and she finds herself breaking her long-standing rule of never dating anyone who works for Rocky Bluff P.D.

  I’ve enjoyed a number of Marilyn Meredith’s novels, but her latest—Smell of Death—is the first I’ve read from her Rocky Bluff PD Series.

Actually, Meredith—who lives in Springville—writes the Rocky Bluff PD series under the name of F.M. Meredith. Smell of Death is the fourth book in this series, with each story in this series set in a small town on Ventura County coast.

I settled in to read Smell of Death on a recent Saturday morning, expecting I would have the day to myself. Reading fiction is a pleasure I don’t take often enough. Alas, the day did not go as planned and I was only about a third of the way through the book when something came up and I had to put it down.

Going about my business I continued to think about the characters Marilyn had introduced…unlike those in the Tempe Crabtree series, these were new to me. Police Officer Stacey Wilbur—a single mother. Detective Doug Milligan (did I sense a love interest developing between him and Wilbur?). Officer Felix Zachary and his wife, Wendy; Officer Abel Navarro and his wife, Maria; and Officer Gordon Butler (uh-oh, he has a crush on Stacey Wilbur, too).

By the time my reading was disturbed, the beach-front community had two murders and a missing child—and the busy PD was handling a number of other cases, too. I had to wonder what more could happen.

Back from my errands I grabbed the book and settled down to satisfy the curiosity that had been building. I wanted to know “who done it” and I wanted to see if the various characters would resolve their problems and issues as the story unfolded.

I was satisfied on both counts. With the understanding of both the job side and the human side of law enforcement personnel, Meredith’s characters are believable and the storyline demonstrates the kinds of issues they face.

The nuts and bolts of a police procedural are woven seamlessly with the involvement of the major characters in a number of sub-plots playing out over what amounts to about two weeks in Rocky Bluff. It makes for what is simply a great read—with enough twists and turns to avoid being predictable, and with characters you will continue to think about after the mysteries are solved.

Leaving hope, of course, that another Rocky Bluff PD story will find its way out of Marilyn’s active imagination very soon!

Claudia Elliott, Editor
Southern Sierra Messenger

Smell of Death starts out with a day like any other for the police officers in charge of keeping the peace in this small southern California town.

First we meet Stacey Wilbur, a fairly new member of the force, a widow, and a single mom. She's bright, dedicated and attractive, a trait not lost on her male counterparts, particularly Gordon Butler, introduced in the third book of the series, Fringe Benefits, and her superior, Detective Doug Milligan.

Although there's a growing respect and attraction between Stacey and Milligan, she's all business when it comes to their business. That morning, Stacey is the first to respond to a call from a worried neighbor about another single mom, Darlene Brantley. Turns out the neighbor's worries are right on target when Stacey finds the first in what will be an alarming series of murder victims and missing children, and as the story unfolds, her own son.

As the investigation continues, Meredith skillfully blends the strengths and weaknesses of the several members of the force as they doggedly pursue clues that takes them and the reader to a surprise ending while dealing with their own personal problems and demons.

In the style of the best of Wambaugh, albeit with a gentler hand and less rugged language, F. M. Meredith draws characters we want to know better, those with whom we'd like to kick back and share a beer. She lays bare their flaws and weaknesses while showing us that these brave men and women, who risk their lives to protect us on a daily basis, are really no different than we are-decent, caring individuals with the same hardships and triumphs, struggling to do their best as husbands and wives, and moms and dads, while keeping their humanity. The members of the Rocky Bluff P. D. are definitely folks I want to visit again, and look forward to "riding along" as they guarantee the triumph of justice over evil.

F. M. Meredith, writing as Marilyn Meredith, is also the author of the award winning Deputy Crabtree Series, a teacher and lecturer, and a good friend of law enforcement through her association with the Public Safety Writers Association (formerly Police Writers), and to whom she dedicated Smell of Death. Her experience and authenticity shine through on every page.

Smell of Death immediately grabbed me from the first roll call until the final pages. If you're lying on a sunny beach, it's a great, lazy afternoon read. Or if you're snuggled beside a roaring fire while a winter storms nips at your windows, you won't go wrong with the Smell of Death as your companion. I give it an enthusiastic thumb's up! Definitely a 4-star read.

You can visit F. M. Meredith at Micqui Miller, My

Rocky Bluff P.D. Series is a cross between Law & Order and As the World Turns. The story centers on the everyday lives of the law enforcement who serve and protect citizens of Rocky Bluff, California, a beach community.

In SMELL OF DEATH, the main characters of this police drama are Officer Flex Zachary who is married and is dealing with a previous shooting of a kid. Internal Affairs cleared him, but that doesn’t stop the nightmares. Even though he’s trying to hold it together, the guilt is affecting his marriage. He ends up being called in by Dr. Logue, the police psychiatrist.

Also, there is Stacey Wilbur, a young widow, mother of a young boy and is the only female on the force. She has two men interested in her. One is Detective Doug Milligan, divorced, father of two. He lives in a one and a half story Victorian and rents out a room to Officer Gordon Butler, who happens to also be the second person interested in Stacey.

The saga opens with a daughter and mother murder. Both happened on the same night, but in different locations. Though Stacey believes these murders are related, evidence and a motive will have to be found. In the meantime, a little girl disappears, there’s arson to investigate and a rash of burglaries all keep Rocky Bluff’s finest busy. By the end of the book, cases will be closed, but the lives of the Rocky Bluff P.D. will keep on. We’ll be able to catch up though in the next series to come.

–J.Kaye Book Blog

Full of suspense, realistic, and sprinkled with a light touch of romance, Smell of Death by F.M. Meredith is a sure hit for crime fiction fans.

The latest in Meredith's Rocky Bluff P.D. series, finds Officer Stacey Wilbur called to the home of Darlene Brantley. Upon entering the home, Wilbur finds Brantley dead, and in a strange twist of events, Brantley's mother is also found murdered on the same night in her own home. While Wilbur assists Detective Doug Milligan in solving these crimes, other members of Rocky Bluff P.D. are on the lookout for the Barefoot Burglars and engage in a search for a missing toddler, hoping to catch the person responsible before another child disappears.

F.M. Meredith is the pseudonym for Marilyn Meredith, who writes the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. I read the newest book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, so I was already familiar with Meredith's work before reviewing this title. Smell of Death certainly lived up to what I expected.
Meredith's experience with crime fiction shines through with this latest novel, as multiple cases plague the members of Rocky Bluff P.D. And while they are working hard to solve these crimes, they are also working on their personal lives. This gives a realistic and complete picture of the people of Rocky Bluff P.D. Stacey Wilbur is a strong and intelligent protagonist who juggles her career and single motherhood, all the while wondering if she should break her long-standing rule of not dating members of Rocky Bluff P.D. when she and Doug Milligan begin working more closely to solve the Brantley murder. This book does an excellent job of showing, through well-defined characters, the impact that life on the police force has on its members and their families. The touch of romance between Stacey and Doug is just the right thing to lighten up some of the heavy stuff going on in this book.

Smell of Death by F.M. Meredith is an engaging, well-written, and gripping page turner, that will leave you hungry for the next book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.  --The Book Connection

We get to know more about the various members of the Rocky Bluff, California police department as they investigate various crimes from vandalism to murder in Smell of Death by F.M. Meredith. Some of the crimes leave scars. Felix Zachary has nightmares because he killed a kid who he thought had a weapon. He keeps on telling himself his problem is temporary. His wife doesn’t believe it. She is determined to help him recover. Then there is Officer Stacy Wilbur  who finds out what it’s like when your child disappears when her son wanders off and no one can find him. Has he been kidnaped by a pedophile? Abel Navarro has a wife who is getting fed up with his never being there when she needs him. Will she get used to it or will she leave him? In between their personal problems and the good times, they investigate a child that has disappeared, strange burglaries, and the death of a mother and daughter.

I enjoyed getting to know the police officers as well as the people they meet while investigating their cases. The author does a great job of developing characters that we like and care about and a plot that kept me wanting to read just one more chapter.
Gerri Balter

AAA Book Review
 Reviewer: Jeff Edwards

Smell of Death is a tightly woven tapestry of romance, human tragedy, and

Officer Stacey Wilbur has problems. As a single parent and the only female
officer assigned to the Rocky Bluff Police Department, her life is quite
complicated enough. When she suddenly finds herself dealing with two murders, a
kidnapped child, and a pair of clumsy burglars, things begin to get out of control.
Somewhere in the middle of all of that, she’s beginning to fall for one of the
detectives in her squad.

Author F. M. Meredith has been compared to Joseph Wambaugh, and I can
definitely see the connection. The cops of her fictional Rocky Bluff PD have lives
that extend beyond the chase and the crime scene. They struggle to raise their
children, deal with leaky faucets, and pay their mortgages. They have hopes,
loves, fears, and nightmares. They come across like real people, with real lives.
The police work in Smell of Death is not fancy, or even particularly high-tech.
There’s no CSI magic to be found here. There are no courtroom theatrics, and no
hyper-intuitive detectives. Just hard working cops doing the sort of methodical
spadework that probably solves most real life crimes.

Fans of Hill Street Blues will find this book right up their alley. F. M.
Meredith has crafted a smoothly compelling police drama, peopled by
convincing characters.

To buy:

 F. M. Meredith aka Marilyn Meredith


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