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Friday 24 November 2023

‘Mystery at Saltwater Cottages’ by Clare Chase

Published by Bookouture,
1 November 2023.
ISBN: 978-1-83790-407-5 (PB)

After Eve Mallow’s husband left her and her marriage fell apart, Eve and Gus, her beloved dachshund, moved to the coastal village of Saxford St. Peter and started a new life. A few years after this Eve is happier than she has ever been. To augment her income as a journalist specialising in obituaries, she works for her best friend, Viv, at her cafe and cake shop. Viv is an inspired baker but a chaotic organiser and Eve is a meticulous person who enjoys creating order out of Viv’s chaos. Eve has made many other good friends in the village and, best of all, has started a new, very happy relationship with Robin, who is currently away from Saxford advising the London police on a major, gang-related investigation. As part of her obituary writing, Eve has often found herself interviewing people who knew the dead person, and in the case of violent death, has found herself talking to witnesses who might turn out to be the killer. In this way Eve has helped to solve many murders and, in doing so, has roused the enmity of Detective Inspector Palmer, a lazy and blinkered detective.

One of Eve’s closest friends is Simon, Viv’s brother, a generous and considerate man. Simon is married to a frivolous young woman, Polly, whom Viv considers to be selfish and shallow. Simon has always been a successful businessman and has just bought and renovated Saltwater Cottages to open as a centre offering residential art classes. As well as superb facilities, Simon has managed to employ an artistic mega-star, Nena Field, to teach the first art classes. Unfortunately some of Simon’s other business ventures have failed and it becomes crucial that the Saltwater Cottages Arts Centre is successful or he could lose his home and the stables that he loves. Currently Polly is away in America and Simon can’t bear to tell her about his problems until he can do so face to face.

Although Eve is primarily an obituary writer, she is happy to write an article promoting Simon’s venture and joins the first classes. Unfortunately, although Nena is an outstanding artist and a surprisingly good teacher, she is also a thoroughly unpleasant person who enjoys making mischief and hurting people. She originally came from Saxford and is the same age as several of Simon’s staff. These local people have known each other and Nena throughout childhood and Nena’ relationship with many of them can only be described as toxic. Two of the senior staff have been brought in from further afield and Eve is surprised to discover that Nena also seems to know secrets about them, even though it had been assumed they have only just met. It becomes apparent that Nena was a spoiled only child who turned into a malicious, thrill-seeking woman who never took responsibility for her actions.

When Nena is discovered dead in Blind Eye Wood, Eve knows that this could close down Saltwater Cottages and destroy Simon’s hope to save his business interests and his home. Eve is determined to discover the murderer and bring them to justice before it is too late to repair the damage to the Art Centre’s reputation and save Simon’s investment. As Eve, with Viv as her eager helper, investigate they discover an abundance of motives and some convenient alibis that need close consideration, not to mention the mystery of the disappearance of the valuable art work that Nena had been working on. The violence grows more extreme and the closer Eve and Viv come to discovering the truth the greater the danger to their own lives.

Mystery at Saltwater Cottages is the eleventh book in the series featuring Eve Mallow. It is a consistently enjoyable series and this book is a worthy addition with an interesting plot and an engaging cast of permanent characters who form a likeable, supportive community. Mystery at Saltwater Cottages is an entertaining read which I thoroughly recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Clare Chase writes classic mysteries. Her aim is to take readers away from it all via some armchair sleuthing in atmospheric locations. Like her heroines, Clare is fascinated by people and what makes them tick. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked in settings as diverse as Littlehey Prison and the University of Cambridge, in her home city. She’s lived everywhere from the house of a lord to a slug-infested flat and finds the mid-terrace she currently occupies a good happy medium.

As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 6 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book click on the title
The Curse of the Concrete Griffin

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this lovely review, Carol, and for arranging it, Lizzie!