by Kathleen Costa
This week we have a review of Secrets of the Treasure King by Terry Ambrose, along with a fun interview with Terry. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a $5 Amazon gift card that you can use to purchase this book or another, and a link to purchase the book from Amazon.
Secrets of the Treasure King: Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery By Terry Ambrose
Review by Kathleen Costa
Check In for Fun, Family, and Felonies!
Rick Atwood started out as a journalist in New York City, but when his grandfather Captain Jack passed away, he inherited a B&B nestled along the California coast and is now enjoying life as the proprietor of Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast. It’s just him and his eleven-year-old daughter Alexandra who is trying her best to make a “love match” between her father and Marquetta Weiss. Marquetta came with the B&B as the chef, one whose culinary training had been funded by Captain Jack, and although Rick has been curious about that arrangement, she is invaluable as the one on whom he can rely to teach, train, and support him in his efforts to manage the inn. With Alex’s persistence, Marquetta is also the one for whom her father has permanent designs setting to relinquish his handsomest eligible bachelor honor. And Alex? She delights in a budding mother/daughter dynamic.
Seaside Cove is a lovely community, like a family, everyone knows each other’s business, supports each other’s efforts, and comes to each other’s aid in a crisis. It is also riddled with mysteries, legends, and lore enticing many a treasure hunter to check in at the B&B or dock at the marina while they seek out sunken wrecks. Unfortunately all this closeness and rumors of riches and fame have entangled Rick and his little “Nancy Drew” in betrayals, greed, Christmas sweaters, and murder.
Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery
A Treasure to Die For (2017)
Clues in the Sand (2018)
The Killer Christmas Sweater Club (2018)
Secrets of the Treasure King (2020)
Secrets of the Treasure King earns 5/5 Treasure Maps…Engaging Fun!
The Treasure King, a boat twice the size of anything at the marina and with a captain whose last visit to Seaside Cove was trouble, has once again docked. The trouble starts immediately when Captain Carroll is asked, more like demanded, to move his boat, which also included a follow-up visit from the law to punctuate the idea of following the rules. The captain is also publicizing he has evidence that shows the location of the San Manuel, a ship that in 1568 sunk with treasure worth millions, if not billions, in today’s market. So is it any surprise that the captain is found dead? Arguments. Threats. Competition. Greed. Murder. Rick is asked to consult with the P.D., but it’s Alex’s inner “Nancy Drew” that goes into overdrive; she uses this opportunity to shadow her hero Deputy Pamela Baker, provide some questionable assistance, and put herself, her friends, and family in jeopardy.
Along with the murder investigation, issues with Deputy Baker, and efforts to rein in Alex’s eagerness, there’s Marquetta’s father. Fifteen years after her father was lost at sea, searching himself for the location of the San Manuel, she still seeks answers. Rick’s training as a journalist has given him the confidence that he can find enough information to ease her heart. There’s an article about the accident, albeit poorly written with limited details, a photo of Captain Jack and Neal Weiss showing both with grim expressions, reports of an argument, desperation, and a witness who says, “There’s a reason they were kept secret.” Is this a secret best kept or revealed?
Ahoy, Brilliant! I am excited to have finally read one of Terry Ambrose’s books in his Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series, and starting with the fourth book didn’t have me at a disadvantage…as I feared. Organized with two distinct perspectives, each chapter, short in size, but not in entertainment, is titled “Alex,” with her first-person narrative, or “Rick,” with a third-person narrative. It’s different, but not at all confusing; readers can easily switch gears with whose perspective takes the lead. There’s so much to unpack in this well-written page turner, and Ambrose’s writing style kept me engaged with sensory-laden descriptions bringing the setting and characters alive and realistic dialogue that did well to set tone, emotions, and personalities. With greed and revenge, secrets and truths, surprises and revelations, the past always seems to come back to haunt. Engaging! I highly recommend this book; newbies can easily start here.
I was reticent and not sure how I’d feel about a pre-teen taking a key role in the drama, is it realistic? However, I found her age easily dismissed, and I liked Rick’s role as a “girl dad” and Marquetta’s surrogate mom offering positive support along with teaching her self-reliance, confidence, and right from wrongful trespassing. However, Alex is very much a “Nancy Drew” figure (a childhood favorite); she may be young, but her curiosity (bordering on nosiness), meticulous nature, theories, and bit of luck make her seem more intelligent, maybe a bit more mature than most eleven-year-old girls…and she does turn up important information. I did enjoy her “Hey, Journal” entries and her matchmaking efforts for more than just her dad and Marquetta. Enjoyable Fun.
No recipes or bonus treats in the book, however, Terry Ambrose has an alphabet of easy-to-follow gluten-free recipes. Check this out: Terry Ambrose—Gluten-free Recipes
Be a Big Terry Ambrose Fan!
Terry Ambrose, one-time skip tracer and bill collector, has cleverly tried his hand at writing. With lots of plot twists and surprising characters, he likes to call them “Mysteries with Character.” There is the nine-book Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mysteries, the three-book License to Lie thriller series, and this four-book Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series. From a retired skip tracer who manages an apartment complex in Hawaii to a con artist to a California coastal B&B owner’s troubles, there is something for every interest.
Interview with Terry Ambrose:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Terry: I started writing more than thirty years ago. The truth is, I consider at least the first ten years part of the learning curve, which I quickly discovered, was very steep.
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Terry: My first published novel, Photo Finish, came out in 2012. It was the first in the McKenna Trouble in Paradise Mystery series. The story takes place in Honolulu and begins when McKenna, a former skip tracer, is tricked into helping one of his tenants when she sees a body being thrown from a plane on Oahu’s north side.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what other genres have you written?
Terry: I tried my hand at sci-fi once and immediately felt lost. While I’d always enjoyed sci-fi when I was younger, it became painfully obvious that writing about aliens was not my thing. What has always intrigued me, though, is people. Why do they do what they do? What could drive someone to commit murder? Perhaps to seek justice? That’s why I call my blog Mysteries with Character, because I believe that the heart of a good story is the characters. Mysteries and suspense afford me the opportunity to indulge that interest.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Terry: Choosing the setting for Seaside Cove was simple. All I had to do was imagine where would I most love to live. Seaside Cove was the answer – a small fictional town on the coast of California. Because most cozy mysteries feature a female sleuth, I chose to make my main character a single dad. To balance out Rick’s straightforward, by-the-book nature, he needed a results oriented, precocious bundle of energy. Enter eleven-year-old Alex, who seems to get grounded more than she’s not, because she never does anything by-the-book!
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Terry: Children grow up being entertained and educated by stories, and yet, as adults we throw up this wall between entertainment and education. I just watched a TED talk about the Taoist concept of yin and yang. In many ways, my concept of storytelling works the same way – the entertainment value of a story could not exist without the theme, or what I want the reader to take away. The story behind Secrets of the Treasure King is all about finding a killer before he or she escapes with a secret worth millions of dollars. But the theme is to always believe in yourself.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Terry: I try to put in at least two hours a day writing. Sometimes that’s in the morning, at other times it’s later in the day. It takes a lot of dedication to crank out an average of a thousand words a day, but that’s the schedule I try to keep.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Terry: I begin with a 100-word synopsis of the story. I gradually build that until it runs around 3,000 words. Once I have a mostly complete synopsis, I split it into scenes using Jack Bickham’s stimulus-response model. After that, I start fleshing out the scenes with details. I document as much as I can so that my need to improvise later is kept at a minimum. I have plenty of flexibility within a scene to change things, but I always know where the story is taking me.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Terry: Morning. First thing. Once I’m done, the day is mine. Unfortunately, my days don’t often go according to plan.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Terry: It was very difficult and I discovered I didn’t really do well with rejection. As a result, I eventually decided to publish independently. I’ve written a light PI mystery featuring a female protagonist that I’m planning on sending to agents. The series is tentatively called the Beachtown Detective Agency mysteries. We’ll see how long I can tolerate the rejection!
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Terry: Those are all ancient history, and I’ve long since erased them from my memory.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Terry: My favorite event was at the Tucson Festival of Books. It was one of the early years for that event, long before they became so focused on traditionally published authors. I was in a booth with two other authors for three days. On the third day, Sunday morning, it snowed, so there we were, standing outside in the freezing cold watching snow come down while we sold books like crazy. It was a bizarre experience because nobody seemed deterred by Mother Nature’s antics.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Terry: Publish the tenth McKenna Trouble in Paradise Mystery in late October/early November. After that, the fifth Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery, and sometime over the course of the next year, find representation for my Beachtown Detective Agency series.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Terry: Sue Grafton, Carl Hiiasen, Jack M. Bickham (mostly for elucidating the stimulus-response model in Scene and Structure, but he also wrote a lot of novels!)
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Terry: Mostly internet, but when the opportunity arises to visit someplace and absorb the sights, sounds, and ambience of a place, I’ll do that. For the McKenna series, I’ve often used places that we’ve visited in the story. If I can get the ear of an expert that’s very helpful.
KRL: What do you read?
Terry: In order to maintain my sanity, I stay away from violence and graphic descriptions in my reading. Most of my reading is light mysteries, but I also like diving into craft of writing books once in a while.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Terry: Favorite movie: Moana. In general, my favorite TV shows are the ones that make me laugh, however, I won’t even watch a sitcom. They stopped being funny a long time ago, but I love shows like Castle, a blend of light drama and humor.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Terry: Hank Phillippi Ryan once told me that only those who persevere succeed. The more words you write, the better you’ll get. The better you get, the higher your chances of someone actually liking your work. Begin by writing 100 words a day. Once you get there, raise your goal until you reach at least 500 words a day. (That will still take 160 days to write an 80,000 word manuscript, but it’s a start). And while you’re at it, find someone who will critique your work honestly.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Terry: My favorite marketing photo. It was taken on the beach on Kauai around the time I released my second McKenna Mystery. My wife told me I needed to do a marketing photo while we were there. I agreed but had one condition. I had to look pathetic. Did I succeed?
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Terry: My wife and I have been married for more than forty years. She’s been a fan of Dancing with the Stars for years and always said she wanted to learn ballroom dancing. So, for her birthday two years ago, I signed us up for ballroom dancing lessons and we’ve been at it ever since!
To enter to win either a $5 Amazon gift card, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “amazon,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 6, 2020. US only, and must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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