ARC Review: “Death by Beach Read,” by Eva Gates

Ah, the solstice approaches. The longest day of the year, the beginning of summer, and a most sacred day. As the solstice approaches, I try to be kinder to myself. This year, I have been a bad blogger. I have been sporadic and have read books that remain unreviewed and never took the time to sit down and prepare, write, and publish. However, the only thing to do is dust off, keep going, and start where I left off. And what better place to pick up than one of my favorite series, Lighthouse Library Mysteries by Eva Gates, with the newest installation Death by Beach Read? I was given this opportunity by Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books, to which I am always grateful. So without further ado…


From the Publisher:

Librarian Lucy’s new historic house comes with a lot of baggage and family secrets. Can she put them to rest or will a killer bring Lucy’s family to their downfall, in the 9th Lighthouse Library mystery.
 
It’s spring in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and Lucy and Connor have moved into their new home at last, a historic cottage on the Nags Head Beach. The house needs a lot of renovations, but they worked hard over the winter to get it ready. Lucy is now happily immersed in her work at the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library, planning her wedding, and decorating the house. That is, until a dead body disrupts their peaceful new abode.   
 
The first night Lucy’s alone in the house, with the company of Charles the library cat, she hears sounds. Investigating they see footsteps in the dust of the unfinished living room, and the door to the outside is open. Lucy’s reminded that the house is said to be haunted: forty years ago the teenage daughter of the owners fled in the night, and never again stepped foot inside her family home.
 
But the sounds have an all-too-human origin and one evening Lucy and Connor find the dead body of a man they don’t even recognize in their kitchen. They soon realize he has a long-time connection to their house. Lucy’s forced to find out what happened all those years ago and why it’s threatening her happiness today.
 
Meanwhile, the Classic Novel Reading Club is reading The House of the Seven Gables by Nathanial Hawthorne, a book about another old house full of secrets. Can Lucy find parallels to her own situation in Hawthorne’s fiction before the killer strikes again?


What I Loved:

  • The Mystery. A dead body in a haunted home, no evidence of how the person got in, and an eerie parallel to House of Seven Gables. Can it get much better? I loved the murder and subsequent mystery in this installment. I didn’t guess the murderer, but it also wasn’t an “out of the blue” killer. The perfect balance.
  • The Setting. One of my favorite themes about this series is the rich descriptions of the Outer Banks beach living, the historic homes, and the lighthouse. Death by Beach Read certainly didn’t disappoint! Beautiful beaches, loving descriptions of restoring the old beach homes, the very real fear of fire in beach communities, all wonderfully described.
  • The Tone. Sometimes, cozy mysteries can be a little flippant with death, with the death being an afterthought to push the character development or show off detective skills. However here, the murder is in every scene: it is in every creak of the stairs, the fear permeating Lucy, Connor’s paranoia. It actually felt like a murder was committed instead of a plot pushed.

What Didn’t Work as Well:

  • Lack of Character Development. I know, not every single book in a series can provide groundbreaking revelations for our characters. Lucy and Connor are moving in together and Lucy is planning their wedding, but not much goes on between them or the side characters. The mystery takes precedence (as it should), but sometimes that means our favorite characters get a little short changed.
  • The Length / Pace. Not sure if it was due to the lack of character development, but there were times that this book felt lagged, and overall felt a bit too long. The exposure of the murderer happened too long after the crime, and the crime happened too long into the book.

Conclusion:

While I had minor quibbles with Death By Beach Read, overall, I loved the mystery and overall *feeling* of this installation to overrule any objections. Four waves from me! Anddd…. it came out a couple of weeks ago! Go pick up your copy here at Bookshop, or if you want the series from book one (By Book or by Crook) pick up your copy here (in paperback!)

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