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Murder At Sea Captain’s Inn
by Melissa Bourbon
Review

To have an author contact me not once, but twice with book review requests, is definitely a ‘bluebird’ event. Whilst I am generally not drawn to fantasy novels as a rule, this cozy mystery series with a difference is so intriguing, that I didn’t have to think twice about it! So thank you for your faith in me, Melissa!

Cover Image of the book 'Murder At Sea Captain's Inn' by author Melissa Bourbon

MURDER AT SEA CAPTAIN’S INN (Book Magic Mysteries #2)

Cover Image of the book 'Murder At Sea Captain's Inn' by author Melissa BourbonGeneration after generation of Lane women die in childbirth, while the sea claims the men.

Pippin Lane Hawthorne’s grand opening of Sea Captain’s Inn is tainted when a scholar studying the Lost Colony of Roanoke is brutally murdered.

Like the black crow that hangs around the old house, could the untimely death be a harbinger of dark things to come?

When her twin brother, Grey, begins bucking the curse by risking his life in the waters of the Outer Banks, Pippin lives in terror that he’ll be the next Lane male to be swallowed by the sea.

Now she must use her gift of bibliomancy to save her brother, solve the murder, and end a two thousand year old pact.

Cover Image of the book 'Murder At Sea Captain's Inn' by author Melissa Bourbon

MELISSA BOURBON

Image of author Melissa BourbonBorn in California, the middle child between two brothers, several moves between States now finds Melissa and her husband happily settled in North Carolina.

After majoring in French and English, Melissa taught middle school Language Arts, before leaving the profession to raise her family and eventually follow her dream of writing full time.

When not pounding the keys, Melissa hikes, practices yoga, cooks, and is slowly but surely discovering all the great restaurants in the Carolinas.

Visit Melissa at her website

Follow Melissa on Twitter

Connect with Melissa on Facebook

“As the middle child, between two brothers, I learned early that being the only girl gave me ‘that special something’ in my family. Mothers and daughters. Fathers and daughters. They are unique bonds that can’t be explained. As a result, all my books have strong mother/daughter and father/daughter relationships–family is what I value most in life”

Cover Image of the book 'Murder At Sea Captain's Inn' by author Melissa Bourbon

FIRST LINES

PROLOGUE

“For Pippin Lane Hawthorne, being in her father’s secret study was akin to wrapping herself up in a cashmere blanket on a chilly afternoon. It had become her safe place. It was the room in the big, rambling house where she could forget everything and everyone. Where she could focus on the Lane family curse, picking up where her father, Leo, had left off”

CHAPTER ONE

“On a clear day, the widow’s walk at Sea Captain’s Inn provided a dazzling view east across Roanoke Sound. The Bodie Island Lighthouse sat in the distance, the treacherous waters of the Atlantic beyond. Of course, Bodie Island wasn’t actually an island. Not anymore. Not for more than one hundred and fifty years. Centuries of storms passing through closed the inlets turning the island into a peninsula that was now known as Hatteras Island”

Cover Image of the book 'Murder At Sea Captain's Inn' by author Melissa Bourbon

MEMORABLE LINES

“For Pippin Lane Hawthorne, being in her father’s secret study was akin to wrapping herself up in a cashmere blanket on a chilly afternoon. It had become her safe place. It was the room in the big, rambling house where she could forget everything and everyone”

.

“It becomes too easy to have something divide a family, and before long a little crack becomes an insurmountable chasm. It comes right back to what we talked about earlier. The truth. If you let the truth be your compass, that’s all that matters”

.

“Hugh’s veiled threat, circled in her mind. She shook her head as if she could erase the thought like shaking an Etch-a-Sketch dissolved whatever had been drawn there”

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“I don’t trust him, but even people who lie sometimes tell the truth”

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“A ‘murder’ of crows flew above them. A shiver wound through Pippin. Whatever poet had named a flock of the black birds a ‘murder’ was dark indeed”

.

“People show you what they want you to see”

.

“The good guys may have won this battle, but they were still fighting the war, and the enemies were invisible”

Cover Image of the book 'Murder At Sea Captain's Inn' by author Melissa Bourbon

REVIEW

“Someone is booked for murder”

Okay! First things first! Does this book work okay as a stand alone story? In my opinion, yes it does, but maybe not quite as well as book #1. Whilst any missing and relevant snippets of back-story were well integrated and explained, I really felt that to fully appreciate and engage with the light fantasy touch this series has, I needed to stay connected to the historic picture which had been painted so well in Murder In Devil’s Cove. Once again, there are one or two tantalising threads of the backstory just crying out for me to read book #3 when it is published, but I wouldn’t feel in any way cheated if for any reason, I didn’t get to read it. The murder/mystery feature was satisfyingly complete and well-rounded.

It didn’t take long for those opening lines to open out into a widescreen picture and for the action to begin. The storyline was broken up into bite-sized chapters, which kept things moving along seamlessly and at a good pace. The ending offered closure on the business at hand, with none of my worst fear ‘cliffhangers’, left dangling to tease me.

Each chapter begins with a tantalisingly delicious quote as a prelude to  the direction the storyline is heading in over the next few pages. The words are taken from a seemingly random and diverse range of authors and wordsmiths, however the research undertaken for these passages alone must have been a painstaking and lengthy labour of love, and which having been so carefully chosen, definitely complement the author’s own narrative and dialogue.

Expanding and enhancing the ongoing fantasy elements of the storyline even more wonderfully, Murder At Sea Captain’s Inn, also comes into its own as an amazingly tripartite book, with plot, characters and location, all playing an equal part in the clever narrative. When I started out, I knew nothing about this part of North Carolina, but now, whilst still not professing to be any kind of local historian, my intrigue and interest has been piqued to the point where I have spent an amount of time in extra research about the area, fully satisfying my ‘armchair traveller’ curiosity. There was also a good diversion into the history surrounding the Roman conquest of Medieval Ireland,  the relationship between two of its key figures and a curse which transcends generations, now resting with Pippin and Grey Lane Hawthorne.

A well structured, immersive, multi-layered storyline, with plenty of perceptive and well researched, social and cultural history. Textured and rich in atmosphere, the assured observational and descriptive narrative, blended with some excellent conversational dialogue, affords a real sense of time and place, adding visual depth and range to the storyline. A born storyteller, with a compelling and heart-warming style of writing which put me right at ease, author Melissa Bourbon has effortlessly and confidently developed Pippin into a tenacious and largely intuitive amateur sleuth, alongside her many other attributes, which include teaching sign language to a loyal and handsome ‘Sailor’ of the four-legged variety!

The characters are definitely given a huge voice and free reign to tell their own story, with just the slightest of guiding hands from their creator, so they generate their own synergy and dynamics, continuing to grow and develop in their individual roles as the series evolves. They are mostly genuine and believable, evoking a real sense of community and causing some amusing laugh-out-loud moments, which place me right there, as part of the action, a bystander who is visiting all the lovely artisanal businesses which they manage and who gets invited into their inner ‘family’ as a trusted silent witness to proceedings. Clearly though, the intimacy of such a small group can also have its disadvantages, as so far at least two of them have proved to be untrustworthy and dangerous individuals for Pippin to know. With others now even more determined than she to discover the secrets of her family curse and the physical treasures it might uncover, they are willing to up the ante in their bid to find the answers they seek.

The personal relationship between Pippin and bookshop owner Jamie, is still in its infancy and whilst not exactly stalling, things are progressing very slowly between them, as they each have their own family issues to resolve before either are prepared to make that leap of faith and commitment. The sibling dynamics between Pippin and her twin brother Grey are more than a little strained at the start of the story, as the bonds between them are stretched and tested far beyond anything which has gone before. Each wants to deal with the family ‘curse’ in their own way, although a catastrophic event will cement their relationship anew, as they decide that they are more powerful when they work together, than when they are tearing each other apart.

I read for so many reasons and from a variety of genres, and so far this series is ticking all those important boxes for me, even with the smattering of fantasy, which is not usually amongst my absolute favourites. I am constantly engaged and entertained by some excellent characters; I am enjoying the emotion of a fledgling romance and the sibling relationship; I find myself relishing the escapism and education of a centuries old curse, and a novice bibliomancer who allows the books to find her.

So far this series has taken me on a unique and interesting journey, so I can’t wait to discover where book #3 will lead me!

Image of author Melissa Bourbon

A complimentary kindle download of this book for review, was made available and supplied by the author.

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!

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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15 comments
  • I remember thinking the first in this series sounded pretty good. (something about that notion of “bibliomancy”!) I’m glad this one worked well for you, too. That sure is a cute dog on the cover!

    • You know what I am generally like if you mention anything to do with reading fantasy (and I still don’t think that anything too serious from the genre is going to overly excite me), however the intriguing history behind this particular family curse and the added bibliomancy elements, really work in this series.

      There are plenty of subtle light-hearted moments and a real sense of time and place, which is great for an ‘armchair traveller’ like myself, especially with my trusted Google on hand to fill in any spaces and show me maps 🙂

      You would really be able to relate to Pippin’s four-legged friend – He is a stray with a difference and one I just know you would have welcomed with open arms 🙂

    • I LOVE the bibliomancy in the series. It is so much fun to choose the books that will communicate something to Pippin.

      Sailor is modeled after Finn from The Finn Chronicles. He’s a cutie, and Sailor is such a fun addition to the series.

    • Aw! Thank you so much for those lovely words, you know how much I appreciate your support and I always look forward to your visits 🙂

      I read from quite an eclectic mix of genres and this definitely isn’t one of those hard-core murder / thrillers we have shared our thoughts about in the past. It leans more towards the ‘cozy’ mystery end of the scale, with a slight touch of added fantasy which really adds to the intrigue, an amateur sleuth it is easy to relate to and a four legged character with a difference (hence the cover)!

      Definitely the complete package!

      I hope that things are better for you now and have a lovely day 🙂

    • Thank you so much for those kind words, I appreciate your visits and support! 🙂

      Given that I am usually quite ‘fantasy averse’ when it comes to my reading, I may have actually had my mind changed by this series, although Melissa has handled the blend of mystery and fantasy very subtly, which I’m sure made all the difference.

      This is definitely one for your #booksbytravel followers, as it has a real sense of time and place! 🙂

    • You are most welcome, Melissa!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to engage with myself and other commenters on the post. Support like this is always valued and appreciated 🙂

      I have really enjoyed the series so far and to be honest, having recently been commissioned to read so many books from genres which I would otherwise have shied away from, and thoroughly enjoyed them all, I think we are only left with science fiction as a genre which I just know isn’t for me!

      Looking forward to book #3 🙂

    • I always enjoy a good ‘cozy’ when there is a realistic storyline and characters.

      Unfortunately the genre is becoming quite crowded and some writers are obviously running out of new ideas!! – Enough Said!

      Melissa has this series nailed though with an excellent storyline, a strong backstory and realistic characters. She has promised to let me know when book #3 comes out and I can’t wait for then!

      Here in the UK, autumn has officially started and if you had been here last week you would have believed it. However, this week has been something of an ‘Indian Summer’ with T shirts and shorts very much the order of the day, for the next few days at least.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and comment. I appreciate your support and enjoy your autumn 🙂

  • The book sounds very interesting. I love its cover, of course, a dog will surely make me pick a book up. Have a lovely and relaxing weekend.

    • Hi Anca,

      The slight fantasy edge and the fact that Pippin is a bibliomancer, really adds that extra sparkle to this storyline and indeed the series.

      ‘Sailor’ the dog is very unusual in that, not only is he a stray who seems to have adopted Pippin as his new owner, as much as Pippin wants to take care of him; but that he is also deaf, adds a unique touch to that portion of the storyline, especially as he is beginning to learn sign language from Pippin!

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope that all is well with you. Now we have finally managed to get fuel, we have family visiting duties this weekend, but I hope that you are managing to arrange time with your husband 🙂

Written by Yvonne

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