A Trip to the Beach

I love the area known as the Outer Banks. The first time I had a chance to visit there I was in my twenties and it was my first experience on such an undeveloped coast. We went for a week off season, so we had the area almost totally to ourselves. It was magic.

We walked on the beach and were the only ones we could see on the sands. My husband took hang gliding classes because we were young enough to try those things (he loved it, by the way). We woke up and drifted off to sleep to the sound of an energetic surf crashing on the shore. It was a sound that reached all the way into my heart.

Several decades have passed, we live too far away to travel to that particular coast easily, and the area has grown well beyond what we experienced in our first and several subsequent visits. Still, the memories remain to be enjoyed whenever I chose. Those memories were triggered in a big way when I had the chance to read Something Read, Something Dead by Eva Gates. It was a joy to immerse myself in the pages of her book and allow my memories to color the setting for her series. She puts just enough description into the book that it enhances what I picture when I’m reading. I’m sure the area has changed a great deal, but since I’m reading and using my imagination, I can create a world more like the one I remember with the help of Ms. Gates’ words.

I look forward reading more books in this series and hope it will continue for several books to come. For now, I’ll have to keep the ones I’ve got nearby to re-read when I start craving a return to the North Carolina coast. If you’re interest is piqued, here’s my review of the book. Hopefully, it will encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself, particularly if you are a fan of sand and surf.

The elements of a good cozy mystery include interesting characters you want to spend time getting to know, a location that sounds like you would at least like to visit if you can’t live there, and a tidy murder that, while unfortunate for the victim, has little or no gory details. What makes it a great cozy adds clues and red herrings woven throughout the story in a seamless progression and plenty of opportunities for the reader to solve the mystery of “who done it” or, conversely to be lead down the virtual garden path. Something Read, Something Dead by Eva Gates has all these elements on full display.

Lucy, a librarian at the lighthouse library, is the protagonist, drawn into the most recent murder when it appears her much loved cousin, Josie, is the prime suspect. Of course the murder isn’t the only thing claiming Lucy’s attention. It all starts when Gloria, Josie’s grandmother, a “grande dame” from Louisiana, blows in for a visit and promptly tries to take over the planning of Josie’s wedding, turning it into the exact opposite of what Josie wants because it will be more “suitable” for a family of their standing.

One of the beauties of having Gloria as a character in the book is it’s easy to read her conversation in the deep southern accent I’ve heard all my life growing up in the south. All the characters are well written, and easy to see as they appear in the book, but Gloria is one of my favorites because she sounds like so many of the women I knew when I was growing up in the south.

Add to the interesting characters The Outer Banks, one of the most beautiful coastal areas on the Atlantic. As with the characters, Gates draws a picture of the Outer Banks and the wildness of the area that makes you want to pack a bag and go for an extended stay. This novel takes place in the winter and Gates makes it sound like the perfect place to spend some time as long as you bring along an extra coat, hat and gloves.

Of course the book wouldn’t be complete without a murder, which occurs with minimal blood and gore and a determination by Lucy to solve the mystery since she doesn’t trust the state policeman who has been imported to do the job. The story progresses steadily toward the unmasking of the killer, all the while taking delightful short detours to include dealing with Josie’s fiance’s ex who has turned into a stalker, the cousins who have arrived with Gloria and dubbed the Louisiana Mafia because of their overbearing insistence on controlling the wedding plans, and Lucy’s advancing relationship with Connor, mayor.

The end of the book was totally satisfying, with the solution being reached and explained by Lucy in a well orchestrated denouement. The explanation provides the readers with vindication if they solved it and a reason to say “how could I miss that’ if they didn’t. This is the fifth book in the Lighthouse Library Mystery series, and my first read; but I certainly plan on it not being my last. While the mystery here is completely self contained and easy to understand without having read any of the previous books in the series, I think it might be enjoyable to read the series from the beginning to experience the relationships of secondary characters develops.

Thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing me an advanced digital read copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

So, now you know. If this has struck a chord, go get yourself a copy or check with your local library to see if they’ve got a copy. Either way, happy reading!