Friday, October 15, 2021

Book Review and Giveaway - Once Upon a Seaside Murder (A Beach Reads Mystery) by Maggie Blackburn

My Review

Summer Merriweather lives in the small coastal town of Brigid's Island, North Carolina. She is grieving her mother's death and operating her late mother's bookstore on the boardwalk. She wants to solve a decades old mystery involving her mother, and while she is researching what happened, a cozy mystery writer who has been visiting her (and her bookstore) is kidnapped.  Maggie works with some book friends to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read Once Upon a Seaside Murder because I was intrigued by the bookstore by the sea setting. Bookstores are one of my favorite mystery locales.

I have not read the first book in the series. By jumping in with the second book I felt like I was missing some important details about Summer and her mother, and what happened before.  There is also a large cast of characters to get to know and keep up with. I always wish for a list of characters with cozy mysteries.

This is definitely edgier than the average cozy mystery. The mood is very melancholy and reflective, as Summer deals with her mother's passing.  She is just learning about her birth father and as a result is meeting many new relatives and getting to know them.

I really liked the bookstore setting; the bookstore scenes were my favorite in this novel. The author does a good job at capturing life in a little coastal town.  I enjoyed getting to know Summer's co-workers, friends, and her loyal aunt and cousins in the book as well.  

There were even some vegan recipes at the end of the book, and they sound delicious! I am especially intrigued by Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes.

The mystery aspect of the novel was well plotted. The chapters are short and action packed, leading to a quick read.  I had some clues about the killer but enjoyed seeing Summer solve the mystery.

Once Upon a Seaside Murder is an interesting and unique mystery.  I do think readers will benefit from reading the first book in the series to set the scene and get to know all the characters.

Book Synopsis

As the holidays approach, bookstore owner Summer Merriwether learns a dark secret in this second volume of Maggie Blackburn’s Beach Reads mystery series. There’s no place like home for the holidays, even if home is sleepy, beachside Brigid’s Island, NC. During this season for giving, the town wakes up to a welcome throng of shoppers–and Beach Reads is no exception. But bookseller Summer Merriwether’s Christmas cheer turns to cringing fear when she uncovers a deadly secret about her late mother–a secret someone will kill to keep. When the local library hosts a cozy mystery panel discussion, Summer learns that one of the authors on the panel based her book on an actual murder that shook Brigid’s Island thirty-five years before. Worse, she soon learns that her dearly missed mother, Hildy, took a disturbingly deep interest in the case, going so far as to collect clippings and keep a journal of the dark doings. This doesn’t jibe with Summer’s memories of her usually cheery mother at all. Tidings get worse when Summer learns of her long-lost biological family’s involvement in the crime…and still worse when the life of the book’s author is threatened. With the help of Hildy’s plucky book club, Summer puts her scholarly smarts to work on protecting the cozy author and solving the decades-old murder. But this ghost from Christmas past may still be deadly in the present, and if she can’t find the killer, Summer’s future will be brief.

Author Bio

Maggie Blackburn is the pen name of Mollie Cox Bryan. She writes cozy mysteries with edge. She’s the author of several bestselling mystery series. She’s recently released a novella mystery series: The Victoria Town Mysteries. Her book, “Goodnight Moo,” has been shortlisted for a Fresh Fiction Reader’s Choice Award. Her books have been selected as finalists for an Agatha Award and a Daphne du Maurier Award and as a Top 10 Beach Reads by Woman’s World. She makes her home at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, Va.

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