Today’s book review comes from Olga, she blogs at http://olganm.wordpress.com
Olga has been reading Murder at the Lighthouse by Frances Evesham
Murder at the Lighthouse: An Exham on Sea Short Cozy Mystery (Exham on Sea Short Cozy Mysteries Book 1) by Frances Evesham. Murders, Secrets, Pets, Cakes and a Survivor Who Won’t Take No for an Answer.
I am reviewing this book as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team. Thanks to Rosie and to the author for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first book I’ve read by the author although I had come across a number of excellent reviews of some of her other books and I was intrigued by this novella that promised an easy and entertaining read. And it does deliver it.
The description recommends the book to those who love Agatha Christie’s novels or Midsomer Murders and it is right, although the characters, especially Libby, are less formulaic that some of the standard fare in the genre, whilst living up to the expectations of those used to reading cozy mysteries.
There is a ‘gentle’ small town teeming with secrets, a female protagonist who is a new arrival, with a traumatic past and many plans (that include baking, cookery books and chocolates), a troubled teenager, a cat, a couple of dogs, an attractive and mysterious man, and of course, a murder, well, two. The protagonist, who has defied friends’ opinions to move and start a new life, is determined not to let anybody else take her for granted, and that seems to be one of her reasons for not letting go of the case, despite the police’s lack of interest in the two bodies she finds (that initially are thought to have suffered accidents).
For me one of the strengths of the book are the main characters, that are drawn in good detail but always allowing for further discoveries to be made, although I thought that some of the secondary ones (both some of the ladies in the historical society and others who are involved in the case) were quickly dispatched with, and the reader needs to be careful not to get them confused or miss them completely.
I also enjoyed the depiction of the town, as seen from an outsider’s perspective, which allows the reader to discover the ins and outs of everybody’s personal lives and relationships at the same time as Libby (although sometimes she keeps things up her sleeve, as is to be expected in the genre).
Although short, the novella’s plot is interesting and will keep you guessing from the beginning, the characters might seem immediately recognisable but appearances might be deceptive, and the book has a great sense of place and community. Being a cozy mystery, it’s not heavy on the procedural or forensic side of things, and as the person solving the mystery is an amateur, the reader has to try and follow her reasoning and the clues. I must confess I didn’t manage to solve the case. It was perhaps my quick reading, but I wasn’t sure all the clues were evident enough to allow other readers to solve the case, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment.
Murder at the Lighthouse is a light and entertaining read (but don’t be fooled, you need to keep your wits about you!) that opens a series introducing characters that I wanted to get to know better, in a charming setting that hides many secrets. Beware if you’re hungry, as the comments about the main character’s experiments in baking might make you reach for something sweet!