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Kathleen Bailey
Where the Light Shines Through
Castle meets Clue in this fun, fast-paced, fresh take on the cozy mystery. Olivia’s syndicated advice column is about solving problems … not murders. But when she returns to her hometown of Apple Station in Virginia to visit her dad, she has five days to expose a killer or fall prey as the next victim. Olivia had planned for a week of rest and relaxation before her move to New York for a promotion and a chance to pursue her publishing dreams. Within hours of arriving home, her world changes forever with the death of someone dear. A promise to a grieving mother leads her to uncover secrets from the past that put her life in danger, leaving her at a crossroads. Does she risk investigating further or settle for the security of the life that awaits? Will she chase after what she thinks she wants or listen to what her heart needs? With the support of friends and family, a tenuous alliance with the lead police detective, and the bravery of an intrepid beagle, she races to protect her dad, rescue an unlikely ally, and bring a murderer to justice. When all seems lost, will Olivia summon the strength and courage she needs to see where the light shines through? Join the journey in the first novel of The Olivia Penn Mystery Series. If you grew up reading Nancy Drew, you’ll love this cozy mystery that entertains with heart and humor amid a charming cast of characters set in a small Southern town. Escape to enjoy a captivating, heartwarming story that will inspire you to be the hero of your own life.
In Bailey’s accomplished debut, advice columnist Olivia Penn (author of the syndicated “Penn’s Pals”) is back home in Virginia horse country for a quick visit with her father before she moves to New York City. Recently promoted and with a novel forthcoming, Olivia’s life might have seemed perfect—until her boyfriend of two years unceremoniously dumped her. Now back in Apple Station for the annual May festival, Olivia’s ready to unwind and recuperate among old friends. The relaxing trip quickly becomes a confounding mystery, however, when one of those friends winds up dead hours after they meet and Olivia must choose whether to follow her instincts for justice, even if it means uprooting secrets, or keep to the safety of her comfortable life. But when a family friend is implicated in the murder, Olivia must navigate small-town politics with the help of her childhood crew and an old rival—all before the murderer strikes again.

Olivia’s vividly sketched hometown of Apple Station is so alive with warmth and local color that it brings to mind a southern version of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls. Bailey’s prose proves just as inviting. Her story boasts moments of real tension throughout, however, especially in the climax, which will keep readers on the edge of their seats. The mystery weaves a web of intrigue that brings skeletons out of the closet and long-held secrets to light, all while staying firmly grounded in the reality of living in a town where everyone knows everyone else’s business—and where the “ idyllic streetscape ... concealed the severity of the affairs transpiring within the [police] station.”

With these engaging, well-conceived characters, and expertly crafted twists that will keep readers guessing, this mystery is sure to please readers looking for an adventure with plenty of intrigue and a comforting conclusion. Fans of the cozy mystery genre will be thrilled to learn that this is just the first of many Olivia Penn mysteries planned.

Takeaway: Bailey’s winning debut will thrill fans of the cozy mystery genre.

Great for fans of: Stephanie Blackmoore’s Engaged in Death, Rita Mae Brown’s Wish You Were Here.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B+