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!
MURDER AT SEA CAPTAIN’S INN (Book Magic Mysteries #2)
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.
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.
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“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”
“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”
“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”
“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”
“I don’t trust him, but even people who lie sometimes tell the truth”
“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”
“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!
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!