by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Despite the beauty of its secluded beaches, Cattail Island has been a place that Callie Padget hoped to escape while pursuing a career in journalism. The Outer Banks peninsula holds too many memories of her late mother, whose tragic death on the island left Callie only wanting to flee from it. Being laid-off from her job at the Charlotte Times has forced her back to her mother’s favorite town though, where Callie can also work at her mother’s favorite bookstore. The MotherVine Bookshop not only houses an Instagrammable cat Tinnakeet Man and a bounty of glorious tomes, its pergola protects one of the oldest vines of Tinnakeet grapes. Some of Callie’s fondest memories are of her mother sitting there and reading books by Mary Higgins Clark, whom Callie was always told by her mother to read as an always reliable source of wisdom.
Less comforting is the lighthouse on Smile Beach, where Callie’s mother fell to her death and whose final resting place is marked by a cross at the base. That is why it is all the more shocking when Eva Meeks also falls from the lighthouse, in what the police declare an act of suicide. Callie’s journalistic instincts kick in and she is unable to accept that as an answer, especially when Eva had been on a determined search for buried treasure and following clues leading her through the Outer Banks. When not worrying about the health of her cranky but adorable Uncle Hudson, Callie is infuriated by the lurid headlines of the local Cattail Crier declaring the Curse of the Cattail Lighthouse. As much as she might try to deny a connection between the women, Callie can’t help but feel empathy towards the daughter Eva left behind, especially since Summer is the same age as Callie was when she lost her own mother. That sympathetic tie, and the inability to resist solving a puzzle, has Callie enlisting her bookstore boss, uncle, and a hunky dojo instructor on a mission to solve a murder and possibly find a treasure.
This debut mystery is a lyrical novel that skillfully depicts the gorgeous beach setting and its quirky inhabitants. Callie feels the weight of the past bearing down on her the more she settles in at her uncle’s, and the urge to run lessens the more she learns to appreciate the charms of her mother’s favorite place. There is a definite divide between locals and “Dingbatters,” with festivals hoping to attract visitors for their money if not for their continual presence. The idolatry of Mary Higgins Clark and her characters makes Callie’s pursuits more understandable and relatable, especially when she is left anonymous threats telling her to mind her own business. Callie’s use of the Tin Man’s kitty Instagram account to promote the bookshop and even lure in a killer is both adorable and ingenious, leading to an unexpected but believable reveal. This is the start of an intriguing and atmospheric series, with a mystery-loving heroine whose future should be full of romance, friends, and so many books to read.
To enter to win a copy of Smile Beach Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “beach,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 11, 2022. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week.
You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.