March 2020 and Operation Cocker is a go! The owners of the Last Ditch Motel, with a little help from their friend Lexy Campbell, are preparing to support one another through the oncoming lockdown, offering the motel’s spare rooms to a select few from the local area in need of sanctuary.
While the newbies are settling in, an ambiguous banner appears demanding one of them return home. But who is it for? Lexy and her friends put a plan into action to ward off the perpetrator, but the very next night, a resident disappears and a message scrawled in human blood is found.
As California shuts down, the Last Ditchers make another gruesome discovery. They tried to create a haven but now it seems as if everyone’s in danger. Is the motel under attack from someone on the outside? Scary as that is, the alternative is worse by far.
A Note From the Publisher
Average rating from 22 members
We’re back at the Last Ditch Motel and it’s going into lockdown! The Motel is opening it’s door to vulnerable people and spouses of medical professionals then promptly closing them again while this big thing works itself out. It’s only for a couple of weeks right it’ll be fine. The only thing to worry about is boredom right? Too bad there’s not a case to work on… oh wait!
Abusive banners start being left hanging in the fence for one of the new residents and shortly after one of them goes missing leaving her kids behind without a word and with a room covered in blood. Lexy and gang are on it. It’s also handy that Detective Molly is on sight until she starts interrogating all of them.
This is all the fun I expect from the Last Ditch gang, the mystery wasn’t too complex but I’m really here for the bants anyway. Lexy baffling Americans with Scottish colloquialisms never gets tired. It’s also interesting to see how authors are incorporating Covid into there work. It was fun to use a classic mystery structure (group of isolated people trapped with a murder) and apply it to current conditions. COVID is the new blizzard.
Thank you Netgalley and Severn House for the eARC.
Who would have thought a mystery set inside a hotel sheltering a group.of people inside due to the Covid pandemic could be so funny and heartwarming. But it is!
Lexy and the gang find themselves involved with another murder in their now cloistered environment and has Lexy finally found love?
I had many good laughs and quite a few snorts reading this story, I love the exchanges between the various people, especially when it comes to Lexy's use of Scottish sayings and the others teasing her about it.
The mystery is good as well, I didn't figure out the perpetrator until it came out ... probably because I was laughing so much.
Just a few months after her brilliantly disturbing novel "The gingerbread house" the talented Scottish writer Catriona McPherson abandons the dreary and menacing suburban bleakness of Glasgow and take us to sunny California where some individuals of disparate socio-economic backgrounds are suddenly uprooted from their daily grind and inevitably thrown together by Covid hysteria and the rather tumultuous exigencies brought upon them by a dreaded confinement.
Add to their plight a pinch of murderous shenanigans and of course mayhem will ensue....
This latest addition to the Last ditch mystery series is packed with lots of uproariously funny moments, an adrenaline-fueled whodunit that perfectly shows how ludicrous and almost farcical our lives have become over the last two years.....
Blessed with an unforgettable cast of losers, misfits, dimwits, unscrupulous sharks....and lots of delicious Californian verbal pyrotechnics, this hilarious caper story kept me in stiches from start to finish. With its dazzling dialogues and highly entertaining plot this terrific novel deserves to find the readership it rightly deserves.
Go for it without any moderation whatsoever because laughter is good for your health (especially today)
Many thanks to Netgalley and Canongate/Severn House for the laughs!!
California, family, family-dynamics, friendship, hotel, houseboat, laugh-out-loud, laugh-riot, law-enforcement, murder, murder-investigation, pandemic, punny, shelter-in-place, situational-humor, snark-fest, verbal-humor, farce*****
This is the absolute best antidote to 2020-2022 with all its restrictions and logistical problems! Set in the early days of quarantining etc, it spoofs a wacky bunch of Californians who only have a small clue of the madness yet to come. They gather in the Last Ditch Hotel and the Squeeky Kleen Laundromat to try to control who they are stuck with IF sequestering is ordered. They include vulnerable seniors (who swim naked), dependents of first responders, people in danger of domestic abuse, to total 17 VERY interesting people. Then comes the first peculiarity. Followed by a murder and the very strange investigation of this closed circle mystery. DO NOT HAVE HOT LIQUIDS AT HAND WHEN READING THIS BOOK!
I requested and received a free e-book copy from Severn House via NetGalley. THANK YOU!
Although I hadn't read the previous books in the series, it didn't spoil my enjoyment of this one. Cosyish crime with a kick, there's a fantastically eclectic collection of characters gathered at the Last Ditch Motel, who become embroiled in an investigation when one of the newest guests is found murdered. The mystery has enough twists to keep you guessing until close to the end, but it's the interplay between the characters that really makes you want to read on. Their affectionate, but brutally honest, way of communicating with each other is fun to read, and you really get the sense of community they've built. I definitely enjoyed my stay at the Last Ditch, and will check in again with Lexy and friends - hopefully post-covid!
Thank you to the publishers Severn House for the opportunity to read this book.
This "humor on every page" murder mystery brings together an eccentric mix of characters in Cuento, CA, in 2020 led by Lexy Campbell, a counselor, and a Scot. Lexy is my favorite character, so fast thinking on her feet, irreverent and outspoken, and we also gather her thoughts – things too terrible to be said aloud. While coping with a pandemic and murder, Lexi provides counseling to patients and friends. She also ponders her friendship with Taylor.
Kathi and her wife Noleen are afraid they will lose control of the Last-Ditch Motel and Skweeky-Kleen Laundromat to the government because of the pandemic. Fortunately, Lexy conjures up an innovative idea to fill the motel with guests who want to quarantine during the pandemic; If they can show they are appropriately quarantining, the authorities will have no grounds for taking over. So, they fill the premises with twelve guests plus children and go on a massive shopping spree to procure enough supplies for a month. Plus, as if a pandemic was not distressing enough, the following morning, they all awaken to a banner made from bedsheets: tied to the fence, in foot-high letters which stated: "COME HOME, BITCH."
Written in the first person of Lexy, Catriona McPherson fills every page with wisecracks, outrageous comments, and banter. For example, Lexy says '"Thanks." because saying, "Piss off out of my boat with your scumbag honesty and I hope you all get boils." might come off a bit brusque.' I enjoyed the character mix and the ability to contrast them against one another. The writing style is uniquely refreshing, abrasive, and fast-paced, inducing page-turning and a desire to experience what is coming next. The language is creative and funny, like Lexi's comment, "I … could see that it wasn't Command Presence Boy or Amazonian Wife rampaging through the undergrowth."
The characters and plot are fleshed out so that we appreciate the gayness of Todd, the lawfulness of Sergeant Ransome, and the abused-ness of Meera and Arif. Even the children, Navy, Salem, Bob, Joan, and Diego, express pertinent things and add to the plot richness. Lexi is equally a master-plotter of stunts and tricks that assist her in inveigling information or promoting bizarre solutions. The mix of characters is so many-sided that the differences playoff and make an authentic, way out, storyline. For example, when a guest, Blaine, is murdered, they all become sleuths.
The plot of Scot Mist includes many diversions to keep the reader guessing who is threatening the occupants of the Last Ditch. A thoughtful undertone to the story consists of thoughts on politics, immigration, LGBTQ, child welfare, the benefits of counseling.
I rate Scot Mist 5 out of 5 stars for its zany humor, slang, audaciousness, and complete plot, and I found nothing I disliked. On the contrary, my belief is this author will have a cult following who finds her writing stimulating and entertaining.
I recommend Scot Mist to a broad audience, including mystery lovers, who appreciate intense humor and embrace the ridiculous in life. However, it is unsuitable for children because of its outspoken nature on all topics.
Lexi In Lockdown…
The fourth in the Last Ditch mystery series and a wildly humorous whodunnit with plenty of feisty frolics. Lockdown in the motel, sanctuary for some with an eccentric cast of characters and not least Lexi herself. This lockdown is not boring but there’s danger afoot and with Lexi on the case things are sure to get hot in this latest witty romp.
Recently published mystery novels have taken a variety of approaches to the pandemic: setting the action in an earlier time period and avoiding the issue completely, alluding vaguely to news reports of a new illness, or incorporating the new reality of mask-wearing and social distancing into the fabric of the story. Catriona MacPherson takes things further, featuring the pandemic front and center as the reason to establish a closed community of suspects—members of a pandemic “pod” self-isolating with Lexy and her pals at the Last Ditch motel. In the manner of the French neighbors-in-lockdown movie “Stuck Together,” this book reminds us of some of the group dynamics evident among neighbors early in the pandemic. Who would be helpful? Who would be the most compulsive cleaner? The person most likely to attempt a surreptitious excursion into town? All of this gives ample opportunity for us to enjoy the author’s characteristic humor in all the banter among buddies. It’s all so very California and very funny. The dialogue is always fun in this series, with everyone giving everyone else a hard time the way friends often do. As usual, much is made of the linguistic and cultural differences between Scotland and the U.S., although it wouldn’t be fair to call Lexy a fish out of water at this point. She is firmly established in California among friends and with a boyfriend. In the advance copy I read, some American characters would occasionally slip into a more UK-style English, or use metric units—speech we associate with Lexy—but presumably these will be Americanized in the final text.
When one of the guests turns up dead, the suspects are all conveniently on hand, just like in a classic murder mystery in an isolated country house. Lexy and her friends investigate while also occasionally engaging in sentimental reflections on the meaning of friendship and community. A delightful entry in this series.
Thanks to Netgalley and Severn House for a digital advance review copy.
March 2020 and we return to the Last Ditch Motel and the Skweeky Kleen Laundromat just as Covid is rearing its ugly head. They decide to jump the gun - scared of being pressganged into accepting all and sundry - and fill their remaining rooms with friends and family and those they know who are in need. This includes a couple of people who have, well, decided that lockdown with their spouses would not be the best idea. And so it is towards their other halves that fingers point when threats are made via signs, insisting they return home. But it is not one of them that disappears, leaving behind a not insubstantial amount of blood. With another message... With this threatening everyone's safety Lexy starts to investigate, roping, well, pretty much everyone else into her shenanigans. But then there's a gruesome discovery and the stakes get a whole lot higher...
I have to admit that I have only read book one of this series and that I found it to be not really my cuppa. But, and this is important, a book buddy of mine persuaded me to give it another go and so I took a punt on this, the fourth book. And I really do have to admit that I was wrong and that I did sack the series off too soon and, well, now I have to go back and read the middle two books. Probably with hindsight, shoulda done that before I read this. Practice what I preach and all that!
Anyway. The characters really grew on me this time. I guess their rough edges have been smoothed out a little and they weren't as annoying as I found them to be first time around. They are a little larger than life, and they are an eclectic mix, but they rub along well and complement each other enough to get by.
And the main story contained herein - seamlessly written around the early days of Covid - was both interesting and intriguing and held my attention nicely. I did guess a few things a bit early but that didn't seem to matter or mar my overall enjoyment. It's funny in places and rather bonkers too but it flows along nicely and doesn't take itself too seriously.
All in all, a fun romp which, despite featuring Covid, actually served as a bit of an antidote to it, if you get what I mean. And a lesson to me to not write a series off too soon. Luckily I have good book buddies who keep me on the straight and narrow...
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
Another entertaining and funny installment in this series. It was great to catch up with the characters and I liked how the author was able to include COVID in the plot.
The mystery is solid and kept me guessing.
Can't wait to read the next installment.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
The latest in Catriona McPherson's A Last Ditch Mystery Series is just as quirky, and sometimes convoluted as ever. It takes me a moment to get my bearings and get caught up with the eccentric cast of characters, but when I do the laughs begin and I am ultimately richly rewarded. 'Scot Mist' takes place in the first few days of the California COVID shutdown. It was actually a little depressing to see their hope that this was a time limited situation. Little do they know what is to come. The mystery is sharp and had me and Lexy guessing. Dig into this entire series for a fun time!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
There are books that feed my soul with the joy of reading. The Last Ditch Mystery series by Catriona McPherson fits this bill completely. The books, starring Scottish emigrant Lexy Campbell, are funny, touching, suspenseful, and even educational (do you know how to get someone to reveal their weight and height without making them suspicious). Scot Mist is the fourth and latest Last Ditch Mystery, and it faces the Covid pandemic head on, with it’s setting of March 2020. That McPherson was able to maintain a humorous tone in this book speaks to her firm grasp of laughter being an essential part of dealing with life.
It’s March 2020 in the United States. News reports are full of a spreading virus called COVID-19. There’s a slow grasping realization that it is a world-wide pandemic, but no one imagines that it will last more than a few weeks or a couple of months. It’s expected that Governor Newsom will soon issue a shelter-in-place order for California residents. Lexy Campbell and her community of lovable misfits who live at the Last Ditch Motel have come up with a preemptive plan to avoid government interference in filling their empty motel rooms and the possibility of infected strangers in their midst. Operation Cocker (you had to be there and you will) even addresses the continued setup of the Skweeky-Kleen Laundry, run by Kathi.
Noleen, Kathi’s partner in the motel and in life, puts up a fence around the motel and a padlocked gate at its front (Lexy is touched that her houseboat by the motel is included in this protected area). For those who haven’t read the previous books, Kathi is a world class germaphobe, so one of the aims of Operation Cocker is to allow Kathi to maintain her sanity, which ensures everyone else's sanity, too. The other full-time oddballs, er, residents who will benefit from this protected environment are Todd, who is a doctor on leave because of his bug phobia and who is married to Dr. Roger, who is currently working in the hospital and sheltering with another doctor. Also already in place are Della, her son Diego, and her new young husband Devin. Joining the regulars for the shelter-in-place Last Ditch style are two spouses who are in abusive relationships with their partners and need safety as well as virus protection, Todd’s mother Barb, the wife and kids of the doctor with whom Roger is staying, an older couple named Maria and Jose, and Lexy’s fairly new boyfriend Taylor and his mother. Oh, and the last person filling a room is Sergeant Molly Ransome, Cuendo Police Department and head nemesis of Lexy.
So, the plans to fill up the motel with pre-selected occupants is a success. Now, they need to get used to communal meals for seventeen people and shoring up supplies, such as the infamous toilet paper. And, there is adjusting to the Scottish terms for things that pop up for the newcomers, something I take great delight in. However, before you can say Bob’s your uncle, trouble creeps in. The first morning after the move-in, a message written on torn sheets is strung across the fence with the menacing words, “Come home, bitch.” Meera and Arif, the two people who had left abusive spouses think the message could be from either one of their spouses. Lexy, who never met an abuse or an injustice she didn’t want to address, makes plans to scare the abusive spouses off, all under the cover of darkness and away from the prying eyes of their resident cop.
Well, what goes up must come down, and so it goes with Operation Cocker. The happy, communal, Kumbaya existence envisioned by its creators takes a Lexy Campbell turn of events shift. Another threatening banner, this time written in blood, the discovery of a bloody room, and a missing person gives Sgt. Molly the stage time to play her favorite game, “Let Heads Roll.” She relentlessly grills the motley crew of the Last Ditch Motel, as they are either suspects or invaluable witnesses. There's no alternative for the Last Ditch Detectives but to do but start their own investigation. With Lexy, Todd, and Kathi on the case, it can be a right ****fest. But, though their method may be madness, this trio is relentless, and readers are treated to another Toad’s Wild Ride of investigative pursuits.
Readers will laugh at the quirky characters and enjoy the suspense of the murder investigation, but the cleverness of Catriona McPherson takes us to another level. She does it so smoothly, integrating it into the story line and characters without any didactic posturing. McPherson shows readers what is important in living their best life through the stories in this microcosm of the world called Last Ditch Motel. She humorously infuses a message of acceptance of our melting pot world in the scenes, such as a certain swimming pool reveal. In fact, these stories show that it is not just accepting our differences,it is embracing them that makes everyone's life better.
You’ve heard the expression “I’d follow you anywhere,” and, no doubt, you’ve heard it attached to authors and their writing. Well, I do follow Catriona McPherson anywhere and everywhere, as she is one of the most versatile talents writing today. Those readers who are already fans of this author are familiar with her other award winning series, including the wonderfully Scottish Dandy Gilver series (#15, The Mirror Dance came out in December), the spine-tingling stand-alones (In Place of Fear is out this spring), and now the funny bone tickling Lexy Campbell/Last Ditch series. Catriona McPherson truly does it all, and she does it all splendidly. Scot Mist is already on my Favorite Reads for 2022, and I'm betting it will be on yours, too.
Thanks to NetGalley, the author, and Severn House Publishing for an advanced copy of Scot Mist.
Scot Mist is my second in Catriona McPherson's Last Ditch Mystery series featuring Lexy Campbell. Though it is book four, I jumped into it with abandonment and I've read another of Catriona McPherson's books from her Dandy Gilver series.
Scot Mist is set in the early days of COVID in 2020 and Catriona McPherson's wonderfully absorbing writing totally drew me in. A family counsellor from Dundee, Scotland, Lexy lives on a houseboat near The Latch Ditch Motel in California after following her husband, now her ex, Bran who is a dentist there. Lexy and her group of friends and residents from the motel have had some success in solving mysteries. I took great enjoyment from spending a few hours in the pockets of Lexy, trying to look for clues, amongst the misdirections. Packed to the rafters with side-splitting humour, I found Scot Mist a great read as a stand-alone, although if time allowed, I would have read books one and two, Scot Free and Scot & Soda first. A mad, incredibly funny, zany, audacious if slightly OTT read and a great tonic for these troubled times. Very highly recommended.
I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Severn House Publishers via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
Despite this being the fourth book in the series, this was my first foray into Lexy’s quirky world of eccentrics who all, for one reason or another, fall outside what society regards as the norm. Lexy, a Scot who has relatively recently arrived in California is the first person protagonist in this irreverent and unusual murder mystery. Noleen and her wife, Kathi, who is also a compulsive cleaner, are worried that the authorities will force them to hand over The Last Ditch Motel and Skweeky-Cleen laundrette as part of the national emergency sweeping across the country in the face of the looming pandemic. So Lexy comes up with a solution – fill the rooms with relatives of front-line workers who want to shield their families from possible infection. Or those who will be particularly vulnerable, which includes her boyfriend’s blind mother. In amongst those who are keen to move in are two spouses enduring physical and emotional abuse, along with two very small children. In fact, they end up with twelve adults and five children keen to join in their lockdown before it actually becomes a legal requirement. Meanwhile, Lexy is living a short distance away in her houseboat, which is connected to the motel by barbed wire fencing.
While the murder mystery certainly provides much of the narrative drive, the interaction between the guests and their unfolding stories also keeps the pages turning. McPherson’s humour ranges from pure farce, to witty wordplay and plenty of enjoyable snark. I was grinning while reading and on occasions laughed out loud. But what I loved most is the amount of heart and warmth in amongst the smart cynicism. Though this is a story about betrayal leading to murder, it is also a book about love and acceptance – though you won’t catch Lexy putting it in those terms. This noisy and extended found family all have their problems, and while there are irritations on a day to day level – providing much of the mayhem and hilarity that runs throughout the book – there is a basic fund of good will that is the bedrock of this small community.
So a murder that might incriminate one of the people living in the motel immediately undermines that cohesion and Lexy is determined to discover the culprit as fast as possible. As this is the fourth book in the series, she and her companions have a track record in solving murders – something the local police officer is determined won’t happen again. I liked how the stakes were raised in this story and I particularly enjoyed how the murder was solved. McPherson clearly has a profound understanding of how people tick, managing to keep a strong sense of compassion along with the humour, which is far harder to pull off than she makes it look. This might have been my first experience of McPherson’s writing, but it certainly won’t be my last. Very highly recommended. While I obtained an arc of Scot Mist from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
In this latest Last Ditch Motel mystery, it's March 2020, and Lexy Campbell and her friends decide to form a safe space at their motel/laundromat for regulars and a select few newbies in need of a safe place as California starts locking down when COVID-19 pandemic cases start to rise. Vulnerable seniors, the spouse and kids of first responders, and two people in danger from their abusive spouses arrive to hunker down. The next morning, an ambiguous banner appears demanding one of them return home, but who do they mean? Then one of the guests disappears and a bloody message is left behind. Lexy, hotel owners Kathi and Noreen, and the ragtag collection of motel guests pitch in to uncover the truth. Author McPherson has written a pandemic story that highlights the restrictions and anxieties of the early COVID days in a delightfully witty comic fashion.
I received a digital ARC from Netgalley and Severn House with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book and provided this review.
Scot Mist is the fourth cozy(ish) Last Ditch mystery by Catriona McPherson. Released 1st Feb 2022 by Severn House, it's 240 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
This is such an exuberantly fun "closed(ish)" setting for a murder mystery. It's set at the very beginning of the covid lockdown panic in a fictive small town in California where the ensemble cast, a found family of oddballs living in and around a small motel, try to come to grips with "Gav the Gov's" shelter in place order. They couldn't possibly be more disparate; plucked from different cultures, socioeconomic strata, backgrounds, orientations, and family makeups, they're knitted together by circumstances and their apparently genuine fondness for one another.
Faced with an indisputably murdered corpse, they are determined to sleuth out the guilty party and set about investigating in their own inimitable way. The "whodunit" and "how" is an impressively funny comedy of errors which reads like a cross between I Love Lucy, Scooby-Doo, and Queer Eye, with a little comedic Lost in Translation for good measure.
Despite being the first book which I've read in the series, it worked quite well as a standalone and I didn't have any trouble keeping the principal characters straight in my head. All the dispararate subplots wind together quickly into a satisfying (and exciting) denouement and resolution. The author has quite a talent with comedic timing and characterization and even surprised a few laughs out of me.
I was engaged enough with the main characters and enjoyed the read so much that I fully intend to go back and read the previous books in the series more or less immediately. There are potential discomfort warnings: discussions of spousal abuse, psychological trauma, anxiety/OCD, blood, and murder. The language is (mostly) clean and there's very little sexual content - (consensual, in context, and not explicit).
Four and a half stars. Definitely a good one for fans of comedic light murder cozies. I love the setup of a group of folks of such divergent backgrounds living in a found-community in a motel.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.