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Death by Beach Read: 06/28/22

Death by Beach Read

Death by Beach Read by Eva Gates and Elise Arsenault (narrator) is the ninth book in the Lighthouse Library mystery series. Now that Lucy is engaged to Connor she's moved out of her lighthouse aerie to an unpainted aristocracy house just outside of the center of town. Unfortunately it has a shady past and before they can even finish the work on it, a man is murdered inside their pantry!

This series uses the Bodie Island book club selection as a thematic counterpoint to the mystery at hand. In this volume it's Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables (1851). While the book club is primarily aimed at older adults in the town, one mother does bring along her teenage daughter. Lucy makes an aside that the book probably won't interest teenage readers but I can recall pulling an all nighter to read it in junior high. It was one of the books that cemented my life long love of Hawthorne's books. It's also made me realize it's been far too long since I read that book and I plan to reread it soon.

With such a Gothic piece as the cornerstone of this mystery, the present day mystery is shrouded in a similar atmosphere. Lucy and Connor's home has a sordid history, including an incident from the 1970s (and now I feel old!) where a then teenage girl was driving from the home and into a life of isolation because of prank she believed (and still does) was her grandfather haunting her the one time she chose to have a boy over, contrary to her strict upbringing.

In the present day, Lucy is also experiencing uninvited guests and visions of faces staring in on her from the outside. The question then is, how many of these are actual people coming by to scare her and how many are her imagination. At no point does she consider a paranormal option, even though her coworker would like her to. I figured the ghostly aspect could have gone either way, given The Spook in the Stacks (2018).

Despite the murderer being blatant in a few places, I didn't catch onto who had done it until after Lucy had. I was frankly too involved in Jo's backstory from the 1970s and the general Gothic overtones of the novel to concern myself with the present day clues. None the less I thoroughly enjoyed the novel.

Five stars

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