Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great main characters; intriguing puzzle
Cons: Writing needs a tad more polish in places.
The Bottom Line:
Very good debut
In a setting that I loved
With fun characters
Kelly Fills in for a Dead Man
While I love living in Southern California, the one thing I miss from my growing up years in Northern California is redwood forests. Naturally, that meant when I spotted a book called Murder at Redwood Cove, I knew I had to read it. It was a wonderful trip to a hidden part of California.
Kelly Jackson is out on her first solo assignment for Resorts International, a company that owns a number of bed and breakfasts. She’s flying into Mendocino County in northern California to take on the day to day running of Redwood Cove until a replacement manager can be found for Bob Phillips. Bob’s been running the location for years until a tragic accident left him dead at the bottom of one of the nearby seaside cliffs.
However, not long after Kelly lands, she begins to question whether Bob’s death was an accident. Then she meets the Silver Sentinels, a group of retired people who have formed a community watch of sorts for the local community. Bob worked with them occasionally, and he was working on something they didn’t know about. The more Kelly pokes around, the more certain she is that Bob was murdered. But can she prove it before something else happens?
Since this is a murder mystery, we as readers know that Bob was killed right away. However, the book doesn’t really spend much time debating that fact. Kelly is certain that something strange is going on pretty much from the beginning, and the Silver Sentinels back her up in that belief. Of course, there’s proving it to the authorities and figuring out exactly what is going on, both of which drive the plot. The book is filled with events and Kelly’s efforts to use them to narrow down her suspect list. The climax was a tad rushed, but everything was tied up at the end.
I absolutely loved the characters. They were rich and sharp right from the start, and I came to truly care for several of them before the book was over. I can’t wait to spend more time with them. There’s quite a range of characters, too, from the kids of the employees at the bed and breakfast to the Silver Sentinels, but the author pulled them all off perfectly. Ironically, I did feel the suspect characters were a tad thin, but that’s a minor issue.
My bigger issue was with the writing. This is a debut novel, and it was a bit rough near the beginning. I’m talking about things like a couple missing scene transitions and thing like that. The entire book was still very readable, and the writing smoothed out as the book progressed, I’m certainly going to read the next one.
And I loved the setting. While Redwood Cove is fictional, I had no trouble picturing it and the coastline where the small town and the bed and breakfast would be located. In fact, it made me long for some time up in that area.
Because this is set at a bed and breakfast, we get lots of delicious sounding descriptions of food. Trust me, there is something here to make everyone’s mouth water. Unlike many culinary cozies, we don’t get any recipes at the end of the book, but this is worth noting only in passing.
I’m definitely planning a return visit to Redwood Cove. There may be a few flaws in Murder at Redwood Cove, but any cozy fan will still enjoy this debut.