Death in Smoke by Barbara Elle

death in smoke

Thank you to Shannon at Reads & Reels for giving me to the opportunity to continue my journey with Leila and the rest of the Red Barn crew!


A bloodied body buried in a snow bank on a remote island off Cape Cod.

A cold case in Kansas.

What’s the connection between two unrelated murders over a thousand miles away and decades apart?

In Death In Smoke, the thrilling sequel to Death In Vermilion, artist Leila Goodfriend unravels the truth about two brutal killings.

From Cuttyhunk Island to a Native American casino in Kansas, Leila tracks a trail of blood and revenge, littered with smoke screens and stone relics of a faded past.

Once again, Leila has to trust her instincts, which puts her at odds with Detective John Grace—a relationship of attraction that, in the end, reveals a tragic secret from her own past.

Despite the detective’s warnings, Leila puts her life at risk, obsessed with proving her friend’s innocence, at least of murder.

Death In Smoke, the new psychological thriller from acclaimed author Barbara Elle, takes readers on an inner and physical journey across clashing cultures and time, challenging assumptions about what is truth—what remains a mystery


My Thoughts

A mystery that kept me interested with its descriptive prose, beautiful locations (which were so well described it had me looking them up), an eclectic group of characters and wonderful colour, shape and diversity. There was also an added layer to the story tying certain instances with classic songs such as the Police “Synchronicity”, “Voices Carry” by Til Tuesday, and “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel. All songs that I absolutely adore and which heightened the experience of the the moment with wonderful lyrics.

Leila was a multi-faceted character. I found her  intimacy issues fascinating, and I loved that the author doesn’t just come right out and say that she had any issues at all. But, any time someone takes her hand, touches her… Really even talks to her like a close friend, she seems to fixate on it like an abnormality in her life. Another part of her insecurity comes out in how judgmental she is. She’s quick to criticize others because it seems to be easier than actually getting to know them. It made for an interesting ride getting to know her better.

One thing that kept me from really enjoying this novel to the fullest was some dialog that seemed too drawn out. There were instances that almost seemed to turn into a “Who’s on First” routine when it should have been a fairly succinct and simple conversation, such as when the body is found and when the sheriff is asking Lester where Joline is… JUST SPIT IT OUT!! There were times when things just dragged somewhat.

Otherwise, it was an enjoyable addition to this mystery series!

Pick up your Copy Now!



Author Bio

death in vermilion author

In her stunning debut thriller, Death In Vermilion (The Cape Mysteries Book 1), acclaimed author Barbara Elle paints a clever and twisted picture of women and sisters, whose lives are entwined by a brutal murder in a Cape Cod town. Who can you trust?

Now, Death In Smoke (The Cape Mysteries Book 2) asks what’s the connection between a bloodied body buried in a snow bank on a remote island off the Cape and a cold case in Kansas? Can artist and amateur sleuth Leila Goodfriend solve this new mystery?

Barbara Elle fell in love with books and writing at a young age, honing her writing chops as a copywriter at major publishers and as a freelance journalist.

Growing up in Boston, but she became a New Yorker as an adult. Her writing draws on people and places she remembers, setting The Cape Mysteries on Cape Cod, a place of memories.

Barbara Elle continues collecting characters and plots, often traveling the world with her touring musician husband, the musical director for rock and roll icon Cyndi Lauper. In her travels, Barbara has explored Buddhist temples in Beijing, crypts in Vienna and Kabuki Theater in Tokyo.

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Death in Smoke is Best Served with a Total Eclipse Cocktail


“Turn around, bright eyes. Every now and then we fall apart…..”


  • 4 oz orange pop
  • 1.5 oz dark rum
  • Orange slice


  1. Pour orange pop over ice
  2. Top slowly with dark rum to float it on top
  3. Finish with a slice of orange for garnish
  4. CHEERS!!

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