Secrets and Scrabble: Murder at Pirate’s Cove – Josh Lanyon
Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, is ready to make a change. So when he learns he’s inherited both a failing bookstore and a falling-down mansion in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove on Buck Island, Rhode Island, it’s full steam ahead!
Sure enough, the village is charming, its residents amusingly eccentric, and widowed police chief Jack Carson is decidedly yummy (though probably as straight as he is stern). However, the bookstore is failing, the mansion is falling down, and there’s that little drawback of finding rival bookseller–and head of the unwelcoming-committee–Trevor Maples dead during the annual Buccaneer Days celebration.
Still, it could be worse. And once Police Chief Carson learns Trevor was killed with the cutlass hanging over the door of Ellery’s bookstore, it is.
I’m super excited about this latest Josh Lanyon series!
I read a lot of mysteries from procedurals to paranormals but I think this might be the first time I’ve come across a true blue MM cozy.
Lanyon loves paying homage to classic golden age mysteries and to the genre as a whole which is something I really liked about her. Many of her MCs are mystery writers and/or bookstore owners, sometimes antique dealers, frequently with love interests involved in law enforcement.
Her latest protagonist’s name is Ellery Page (love the name!). He is a screenwriter, an abysmally bad actor and the owner of Crow’s Nest, a failing bookstore inherited from a long-lost dead relative. He lives in a mansion that’s literally falling apart as we speak. Also inherited from said dead relative.
I liked that the story was written in Ellery’s third person POV instead of a first person POV. As with most of her protagonists, his ‘voice’ brings in those colorful snarky descriptions frequently deployed by writers to make things more dramatic. I had fun going through his thoughts but I wish Lanyon would shake things up and write from the more stoic love interest’s POV too.
As genre tradition dictates, our amateur sleuth pokes his nose into other people’s business in an effort to clear his name of murder. Most of it involved soliciting gossip from people who were very much willing to share. This is safe enough. But then there was one TSTL-ish moment when he did a little B & E on a dead man’s house. Aaargh!!! I was so exasperated! I wanted to smack him in the head for stupidity.
We also meet Police Chief Jack Carson, the lead investigator of the case who time and time again warned Ellery to stay out of trouble. Carson is your usual Lanyon love interest. At first glance, an abrasive man of few words who as the story progressed would reveal his hidden not-so-bad-afterall side. This happens in almost every Lanyon book but somehow I’m not tired of it yet. I still get a thrill whenever the ‘good’ side is revealed
He and Ellery oh so slowly edged towards a tentative friendship. And that’s all there is. This story has no romance and zero steam. This is a big plus for me.
The story is set in a quaint seaside town of Pirate’s Cove. I’m the type of reader who typically gloss over descriptions of places so I’m glad that the book was able to establish a sense of place and town culture without boring me with too much details. We are also introduced to a fair share of quirky town fixtures sure to pop up in many of the books.
I had a great time letting the story unfold. The mystery was a good one. I couldn’t guess who the murderer was until the very end. I only realized on hindsight that major clues were dropped and I totally missed them.
Murder at Pirate’s Cove is a quintessential cozy. Even with the templates fully in place, they do not detract to how enjoyable everything is. The author was able to keep things fresh and engaging. All in all, this is a charming little addition to her oeuvre.
Recommended if you like amateur sleuths who couldn’t lie to save their life, pirate cosplay murders and puppies who wouldn’t quit.
Josh Lanyon books here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits