Murder at Pirate's Cove
Murder at Pirate’s Cove is the first book in a new series of cozy mysteries by Josh Lanyon – a kind of Adrien English meets Jessica Fletcher if you will! All the ingredients of the genre are there – a small village community, eccentric characters, dastardly doings and an intrepid hero; in this case one who ends up at the wrong end of a murder investigation!
Screenwriter Ellery Page left New York and his cheating boyfriend for the small Rhode Island resort town of Pirate’s Cove when he inherited a bequest from his great-great-great aunt Eudora. That bequest consisted of the town’s mystery bookshop, Crow’s Nest, and a rambling (and ramshackle) late-Victorian era house just outside town, and Ellery, feeling the need to make a change, has thrown himself into running the shop and renovating the house. He likes Pirate’s Cove, although he’s still something of an outsider, and is determined to make a go of things there… although three months in, he’s not sure how much longer he’ll be able to afford to stay if business doesn’t start to pick up soon.
Walking back to the shop from the pub late one evening, Ellery is surprised to see the lights are on – and even more surprised to find a dead body – dressed in a pirate costume – lying on the floor. Trevor Maples – a local property developer who was pressuring Ellery to sell Crow’s Nest – was a nasty piece of work, and the fact that he and Ellery were overheard in an altercation on the day Maples died means things don’t look too good for our hero. When the chief of police, Jack Carson (a former LAPD Homicide detective) makes it clear that Ellery is currently the number one suspect, Ellery decides that if the police aren’t looking for the real killer, then he’ll have to find something to persuade them to look elsewhere – and maybe even prove his own innocence. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that someone is actively trying to frame Ellery for the murders – but who, and why?
I’m not really the biggest fan of cozy mysteries – I tend to prefer my mysteries a bit grittier – but I do generally enjoy Josh Lanyon’s work and was keen to see what she’d do with the tropes. Like most genres, there are certain rules to be followed – the stories are usually fairly short with lighter plots, they’re set in a small town or village and the sleuth is often a reluctant amateur who gets him or herself into sticky situations because they’re actually investigating and snooping around rather than just interviewing people! – to name but a few. Ms. Lanyon sticks pretty closely to those rules and turns in a charming story that hooked me in, principally, I think, because Ellery is so completely loveable! Sweet, clever, funny and utterly relatable, he’s a delightful character, and his gentle wit had me smiling often:
The pup yawned in his ear and tucked his head more comfortably beneath Ellery’s chin. “Isn’t he adorable?” the mayor said in the polite tone of a cat person.
“I’d hate to think I’d moved to Cabot Cove by mistake.”
He’s the reader’s route into the community of Pirate’s Cove, with its aptly named shops and fun, colourful characters, but unlike many amateur sleuths, he’s practically clueless about crime shows and mystery novels. He doesn’t let that stop him, however; with someone going all out to frame him – and worse? – he can’t afford to just sit back and wait to be arrested.
The mystery is intriguing and well done, with deft application of red herrings and plenty of clues for the reader to follow, and the author has introduced an intriguing – and sometimes irritating – secondary cast I’m (mostly) looking forward to meeting again. There’s no romance as such in the book, but there’s a definite spark of interest between Ellery and the handsome, widowed police chief Jack Carson and I’m looking forward to watching their relationship develop in future books.
I honestly didn’t expect to find myself enjoying Murder at Pirate’s Cove as much as I did, but it turned out to be fast-paced and fun story – and even a non-fan of cozies like me found plenty to enjoy.
Buy it at: Amazon
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