44 Cranberry Point: A Novel (Cedar Cove, 4)

Image of 44 Cranberry Point: A Novel (Cedar Cove, 4)
Release Date: 
December 26, 2023
Reviewed by: 

If the reader is looking for a cozy murder with a single plot throughout, Debbie Macomber’s 44 Cranberry Point is not the answer. The book blurb focuses on a murder occurring at 44 Cranberry Point, and while this does occur, it is not the story.

Macomber’s story is one of an eclectic group of friends, neighbors, and relatives who reside in the town of Cedar Cove. Each chapter spends time with one or another of the couples or individuals, and the problems that each faces.

44 Cranberry Point is a bed and breakfast owned by Bob and Peggy Beldon. “More than a year ago, a stranger had knocked on their door in the middle of a dark, stormy night . . .  By the morning, the stranger was dead.” After the police are called and the investigation begins, they determine that Max Russell is a man from Peter’s distant past. A man who grew up in Cedar Cove, knew Peter when they both went to Vietnam, and who shares a war secret with Peter and two other men, Dan Sherman and Col. Stewart Samuels.

Cecilia Randall awaits the return of her sailor husband, Ian, after his six-month deployment. They share a terrible event when their toddler daughter Allison died while Ian was still deployed. Cecilia’s goal is to get pregnant again and jump-start the family that they both want. “Her desire for a child had grown progressively stronger in the months Ian had been at sea. ‘I’m ready, Ian’ His shoulders sagged. ‘I’m not . . .’”Her disappointment grows when Ian makes it clear he is not ready to start a family again.

“With a sense of joy and celebration, Maryellen Sherman carried the heavy cardboard box out of her rental house and set it in the trunk of her car.” Divorced and a single mother, she is preparing for her wedding to Jon Bowman, the father of her child. She considers this the happiest day of her life.

Grace Sherman, mother to Maryellen Sherman, widowed when her husband Dan committed suicide, is lonely. “Her marriage wasn’t particularly happy, but it wasn’t unhappy, either. Her life was comfortable. Predictable. Then Dan had disappeared.” And then more disappointment. She fell hard for Cliff Harding, a local divorced man, but she got swept up by Will Jefferson, a sweet-talker, married man. Her relationship with Cliff is on the outs, and Will is someone she does not want to ever see again. “With both Cliff and Will out of her life, Grace was lonely. Terribly lonely.”

Charlotte Jefferson, mother of Judge Olivia Robson, is an independent woman and in love for the first time since she lost her husband. The man who gets her attention is Ben Rhodes, a man new to Cedar Cove, but equally in love with Charlotte. “Despite her age, her heart did a tiny flip-fop at the sight of him.”

Olivia Robson Griffin and Jack Griffin, everyone agrees, are made for each other. Or are they? It doesn’t take long for Olivia, a neat-freak, and Jack, a not-so-neat-freak, to recognize that it’s the little things as well as the big things that make for love, and they have to deal with the little things.

To help resolve this community confusion, Macomber introduces Roy McAfee, a retired police officer and now a private investigator. With his wife, Corrie, he sets out to resolve Dan Sherman’s death. Peter’s best friend is Jack Griffin and Peter confides his wartime secret with Jack.

Marriages, divorces, suicides, and murder—enough to confuse even the best of readers. But the savvy reader can see there are very thin threads beginning to form that, if pulled tight, may draw the story together. How does Macomber wrestle with each of the situations she has created? Simple—she thickens the thread.

Grace is a volunteer at the library as well as the local humane society, and her coworker has a brilliant idea. A way to raise funds for both the library and the dog rescue: a dog/bachelor auction. As the committee begins discussing possible bachelors to approach, Cliff’s name surfaces, and Grace is reluctant.

In the meantime, Will calls his sister, Olivia, and demands that she investigate Ben Rhodes, fearing that Ben is just after their mother (Charlotte)’s money. Will, being the coward that he is, shoves the task onto Olivia—after all, she is a judge. Reluctantly, Olivia agrees.

Grace’s problem looks to be difficult to resolve since her desire to reconnect with Cliff, her one true love, is blocked at every turn. In addition, Will shows up and attempts to reconnect with Grace, and he won’t take no for an answer. But just as Grace may be herself reconnecting with Cliff, he sees her with Will, and all good plans go south.

Rachel Pendergast, the manicurist at Get Nailed is in a quandary. Her bid at the auction wins her a young sailor whom she quickly develops a crush on. But Bruce Peyton, whose daughter Jolene has targeted Rachel to marry her widowed father, is hovering in the wings.

As the reader finishes one chapter and turns the page, they are brought back into the lives of these friends and neighbors and one would expect confusion to set in, but in reality, threads can be strong. Macomber succeeds in tightening each story and bringing the characters together. It should be noted, however, that although Roy solves the problem of 44 Cranberry Point, he suspects there is more awaiting his attention. And “He wasn’t prepared to let anyone risk the haven he and Corrie have found in Cedar Cove.”

Macomber has a number of major characters, but none are a main protagonist. She is a prolific writer, and it is very possible that her readers will find more characters, more threads, and more solutions in a book to come.