Sunday, January 6, 2013

No Bells # 8 in the RBPD Series



This is the latest in the Rocky Bluff series, giving you time to catch up before the new one comes out.

No Bells Blurb:

Officer Gordon Butler has finally found the love he’s been seeking for a long time, but there’s one big problem, she’s the major suspect in a murder case.

Reviews:


Fans of F. M. Meredith’s long-running Rocky Bluff Police Department mysteries will be happy to learn the newest book may be the best yet. In No Bells, Gordon Butler gets his first leading role in this clever ensemble series. Butler is like Joe Btfsplk, the cartoon character in Al Capp’s Li’l Abner, a poor sap for whom things never quite work out. Meredith’s plot – her best yet – is a perfect fit for the character.

Without giving away too much, he wins but he loses. It’s a very satisfying read, and the meaning of the title is not revealed until the end. No Bells is a tightly woven story. Just when you think you know “whodunit,” something happens to change your mind. Then you go back to your first guess. Then a different hunch arises. As always, every member of the Rocky Bluff PD and their family members has a speaking part as their personal lives and police issues give us another glimpse of a town we love to visit. 

–Review by Michael Orenduff, author of The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier

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A cop's life isn't all gunfire, sirens and squealing tires. In F.M. Meredith's NO BELLS, cops in a small Southern California beach community knock on doors the old-fashioned way. Investigating a murder, they suspect and question everyone who knew the victim.

NO BELLS reminds me of "Barney Miller," a low-key but thoroughly entertaining 1970s TV series. The setting was a squad room of New York City 's fictional 12th Precinct, located in Greenwich Village, with an ensemble cast working separately and together. In that small, confined setting the viewer got to know the players.

It's the same in NO BELLS, with an ensemble cast in a small setting that lets you get to know the players. Meredith takes her time unfolding the story, with careful attention to detail. In this community where nobody's business is really private, the answers are there for the asking. The trick is to ask the right questions. At the same time, the cops struggle to maintain some semblance of a home life.

Even in an ensemble some characters stand out. A female cop named Stacey is brought into the case because her feminine intuition picks up on the bits and pieces of human behavior. It pays off. A witness almost everyone overlooks provides damning clues when Stacey gains his confidence.

The most sympathetic character is Officer Gordon Butler, a hard-luck cop who gets calls ranging from an underwear thief who poops on a dining room table to a seagull who swoops into a beach bar and dive bombs the customers. Gordon's wife left him for another officer, and his new lady love is a suspect in the murder case. He's willing to risk his job, his friends and his life to prove her innocence.

I was smiling when I closed the book, and I do love an ending that makes me smile.

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Long the butt of the police department's jokes, Gordon Butler never seems to catch a break. He gets sent on the oddest calls and manages to end up in some rather strange situations. It looks like his luck might be changing, though. A routine traffic stop introduces Gordon to Benay Weiss, a local hair stylist. He thinks he's finally found the love he's been seeking. But when Benay's best friend, Geri, is reported missing and then found dead, Benay soon becomes a prime suspect. Gordon puts his job on the line to prove her innocence.

I've read all the books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. Gordon has been my favorite character since he was introduced. I am so thrilled No Bells spotlights this great character.

The point of this series and what F.M. Meredith has always done well, is to show how the job impacts family life and vice versa. Even though we've gotten some glimpse of Gordon's personal life in previous books--the way his marriage broke apart, his falling in love with a fellow officer, and his living with Detective Doug Milligan--the reader didn't get a chance to see a whole lot of Gordon outside of his job. This book changes all that. In addition, we get to see Gordon from his own point of view. He knows the guys laugh at his expense. He knows they don't think he's the brightest bulb in the box. You don't ever see him stick up for himself or try to change their opinions.

In No Bells, we see Gordon going against the advice of his peers when he decides to try and prove his girlfriend's innocence. The evidence against Benay is mounting, but he just can't believe she's guilty. The reader has to keep turning the pages to see if Gordon is rewarded in the end.

This book has a lighter tone than some of the other books in this series. There's action, but it's not constant. The main focus is on the murder investigation of Benay's best friend instead of there being several different cases to be solved, as in some other books in the series. We still see a lot of the regulars and their lives, but Gordon is definitely the focus.

I can't wait until the next Rocky Bluff P.D. book comes out next spring.

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How about a 21-bell-salute for NO BELLS by F.M Meredith? This latest addition to the Rocky Bluff Police Department saga welcomed me back into the lives of people who have seemed like fascinating friends since I met them in the first Rocky Bluff PD story. Truth be told, I cared about these officers and their families from the beginning. Finding them tangled in knotty problems similar to those real police officers may face on a daily basis gives me the feeling I’m privy to secrets the public in general is never aware of. I’m a fly on the wall; a hidden witness to secrets previously unknown; an invisible sprite watching crime happen. And then I am the invisible ride-along as RBPD officers work their way toward the “Who/Why/How solutions. Ah,what a gift to a reader!

NO BELLS is an especially moving addition to this saga, because Officer Gordon Butler leads the story. Gordon is not a slick, macho, hard-driving cop. He’s vulnerable, sometimes bumbling, (though still a good, try-hard officer). He’s often the victim of teasing and jokes from fellow officers. At times it seems like the poor guy just can’t catch a break. And, as you may well have heard along the grapevine, this time–just when it seems he’s finally found the love of his life–she becomes a prime suspect in a murder case.
Can you guess how he reacts? Of course!  Ignoring – - – - and high water, danger, and and warnings from senior officers, Gordon leaps on his white horse (literary license here),and rides out to solve the crime and clear the name of his lady love. WOW. Grab your steed and come along for the ride!  -- Radine Trees Nehring

Murder in a Small Town at Its Best
Welcome to Rocky Bluff, one of those small towns where everybody knows everybody until a body is discovered on the beach and all of a sudden nobody knows anything, but everybody is talking.

In F. M. Meredith's latest book, No Bells, the body on the beach is Geri Rowe who happens to be Benay Weiss's best friend. Geri was seeking a divorce from a cold and uncaring husband. Neither wanted to relinquish custody of their two children. It is learned that Geri was having an affair with her boss, but Geri's husband had his share of affairs. One of them was with Benay. But that was over, wasn't it?

A witness said a red-haired woman lured Geyri into her car. Benay is the only woman in town with red hair.

The police start asking questions and fingers point to Benay Weiss. The only person who has a doubt is Police Officer Gordon Butler who is in love with Benay. He could lose his job if he gets involved. Do you think that's going to stop him?

But there is a good chance Benay Weiss is the guilty party. Will love blind Gordon to the truth, or is there another answer to this crime?

This is one of those terrific small town crimes with lots of subplots and great personalities who inhabit the place. By the time you are finished with the book, you will feel like you spent time in that town and enjoyed every minute of it.

A fun read.

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