My thanks go out to Sarah, representing publisher Bookouture, for saving me a place on this lovely ‘Books On Tour’ schedule.
I also need to thank the great NetGalley team, for always making life so easy when downloading review copies.
A BODY ON THE BEACH – (Kate Palmer #5)
Kate Palmer thought the pretty Cornish seaside village of Tinworthy would be the perfect spot to live out her golden years – how very wrong she was! It’s been one mystery after another ever since she arrived and now Kate finds herself tangled up in a messy feud with glamorous local celebrity Sienna Stone…
A few hours after a showdown between the two women at the village’s annual summer party, Kate discovers Sienna’s body on the beautiful white-sand beach. Rumours swirl around the close-knit community and all eyes are on Kate. When the tables are turned and Kate is accused of murder, can she solve the crime and clear her name?
Kate finds herself running all around Tinworthy investigating those closest to Sienna. Plenty of people disliked her but would any of them go so far as to kill her and frame Kate? Could it be Sienna’s long-suffering husband Irving? Her jealous younger sister Sally? Or the local chef Sienna put out of business?
Just as she thinks she’s getting closer, Sienna’s keenest fan, Timmy, is found dead in his own home. Timmy was another suspect, so his untimely demise could mean Kate’s the next victim… or put her one step closer to jail!
With time running out, Kate needs to find out the truth. Can she solve the case – and save herself? Or have her days of sleuthing come to an end?
Writing was what Dee was good at in school and she won several essay competitions, but then life got in the way and she didn’t pick up a pen again until after retirement.
Aged 18, Dee arrived in London from Scotland at the beginning of the swinging sixties, and typed her way round the West End for a couple of years before joining BOAC (forerunner of British Airways) in Passenger Services for 2 years, and then as an air stewardess on long haul routes for 8 years.
After that she conducted market research at Heathrow for both the government statistics and for BA, before becoming a sales rep. She was also the receptionist at the Thames Television Studios in Teddington when they had the franchise.
Dee has since relocated to Cornwall, where she spent 10 years running a small B&B, before turning to writing full time.
She lives with her husband, and her family still live close by.
Connect with Dee on Facebook
Follow Dee on Twitter
It was one of those swelteringly hot days without a breath of wind which was unusual, to say the least, in a Cornish field so close to the edge of the cliffs. It was even more unusual for someone to be pushed off these cliffs and end up on the sandy beach below, but that is what happened…
“Nevertheless, if she was pushed, you’re going to be a suspect, I guess. Why are you always in the wrong place at the wrong time, Kate?”
“Kate knew that each time you met someone, you got to know a little more about them. They gave little snippets of themselves away without realising it. It was almost an advantage that she, Kate, was a suspect herself so that they were all in the same boat and, hopefully, none of these people would suspect her of studying them”
“Kate was aware that her so-called sleuthing had endangered her own life on several occasions, and vowed to keep herself out of trouble from now on. If only she wasn’t so fascinated by crime-solving!”
“Can she solve the case – and save herself? Or have her days of sleuthing come to an end?”
Oh Dear – It’s over already!
I finished this lovely book in just a couple of sittings, and yet still managed to immerse myself in its pages, savouring every single word.
As an avid follower of this series, I feel as though I have got to know the resident characters of fictional Tinworthy quite well, so reading a new chapter in the life of the village always feels like ‘going home’ to Cornwall, one of my most favourite parts of the country, even if there does seem to be a disproportionately high number of murders for such an intimate location.
But have no fear! You don’t need to have read this series from the beginning to feel part of the village life, as all the books work great as stand alone stories, with author Dee MacDonald having honed the knack of bringing any new readers up to date with necessary back-story details, to perfection, with just a few cleverly placed sentences and as a seamless part of the current storyline, all without ever making her regular followers feel short-changed.
At this point in my reviews, I usually try to provide a short, no spoiler overview of the storyline. However on this occasion, the premise provides just about all the relevant facts of the case, so to add anything further would certainly be information ‘too much detail’, for anyone planning to read the book. Suffice to say that my suspect list was every bit as long as Kate’s own, although I felt quite pleased with myself that in addition to Kate’s many names, my own list included that of the eventual murderer, although I had no idea about a motive, just a strong feeling that I didn’t like or trust them. There are always plenty of red herrings and twists in any case with which Kate is involved and this one proved to be particularly tricky, with the final sting in the tail being totally unexpected by just about everyone. When the reasons for the murders were revealed, I was really surprised at just how clever author Dee MacDonald had been in weaving together two seemingly unrelated strands of the storyline, one of which Kate herself had unwittingly been a party to. The police were definitely barking up the wrong tree completely, so it’s a good job Kate had ignored all their warnings about getting too involved in the case, as on this occasion, she herself had been one of the prime suspects!
This time Kate not only almost broke my fourth golden rule for what makes a great fiction storyline – that the main protagonist shouldn’t end up dead – but she also almost took Woody and Jack down with her, although I have to say that they were as ‘up for the chase’ as much as Kate herself was. In fact, all three of them were willing orchestrators of the final showdown, which almost inevitably wasn’t going to end well, so is Woody still really unhappy about Kate’s constant sleuthing, or is he secretly beginning to come round to the idea of ‘keeping his hand in’ with the occasional police investigation. After all, Kate really does need a calming influence when it comes to an ongoing situation, as her thought processes can end up all over the place, despite the many suspect and motive lists she makes, which often makes Woody smile. He also has the knack of knowing when Kate is about to dash off and follow up a new lead, when he really doesn’t think it is such a good idea. However, as much as he tries to keep her in check, even down to actually making her promise not to follow up on a particularly risky lead, she will always find a way to outwit him, or change a detail or two, so that she can say that she honestly never disobeyed his specific request.
Well structured, multi-layered and highly textured, this storyline is fluently written in short, easy to navigate chapters, which keep the pace of the action non-stop and ever evolving. Plenty of wonderfully assured observational and descriptive narrative, together with some excellent conversational dialogue, offers a really good sense of time and place, making it all too easy to follow events as they unfold, whilst still not being able to spot the real villain of the piece. In this story, revenge is definitely a dish best served cold, although past traumas do have to be allowed for, as no one really understands the fragility of the human mind, despite the outward show of bluff and bravado.
Dee has created a multi-faceted, well drawn and defined cast of characters, who I could clearly visualise in my minds eye, especially Kate’s elder sister Angie, and her current partner, Irishman Fergal – as soon as you meet them, you’ll see what I mean about them being memorable and they are certain to raise a smile or two. Whether they are on the side of good or bad, all are authentically realistic and genuinely believable in the individual roles which have been created for them. Theirs is collectively a strong voice, with which they tell their own story, although some are more reliable witnesses, easy to connect with and relate to than others. The core cast of characters are like old friends and such are the dynamics between them, I almost feel that I could knock on any Tinworthy door, or visit any of the businesses and receive a warm welcome, so long as Kate or Woody were with me to break the ice a little first. Each episode generally features a couple of ‘outsiders’, who really don’t fit into village life at all and seldom tend to stick around, especially if they end up dead or in custody!
Kate Palmer decided not to take her husband’s name on marriage, well would you, when your surname is already a very fitting anagram of ‘Marple’. The similarities don’t stop with the shared name either, and even though there is quite a substantial age difference between them, Kate is definitely a modern day version of that famous amateur sleuth, even right down to some of her personality traits. With each passing story, I am growing more and more confused as to whether Kate reminds me more of Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher. I suppose it rather depends on which side of the pond you live, as to where your loyalties lie!
Now that Kate and Woody have made their joint home in Kate’s charming cottage, her dog Barney gets double the walks, double the love and no doubt double the treats! He makes great cover for Kate when she is off on one of her ‘fishing’ missions for clues, a ploy which Woody has just cottoned onto and one he will no doubt be watching out for in the future!
A complimentary download of this book for review purposes, was made available by Bookouture and supplied by NetGalley
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!