Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
It is my pleasure to share my thoughts today about
A Time to Swill by Sherry Harris!
A Time to Swill (A Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon Mystery)
2nd in Series
Setting – Florida
Publisher : Kensington (July 27, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 149672304X
ISBN-13 : 978-1496723048
Kindle ASIN : B08MBFK131
Bestselling author Sherry Harris gives us the second in a new cozy mystery series featuring a bartender sleuth in the tiny town of Emerald Cove, Florida.
BAD TO THE BONE
Chloe loves her new life pouring beers and mixing cocktails at the Sea Glass Saloon in the Florida Panhandle town of Emerald Cove. But on the job, the only exercise she gets is walking from one end of the bar to the other, so in the mornings she loves to run on the beach. On this morning’s foggy run, she spots a sailboat washed up on a sandbar. Hearing a cry, she climbs aboard the beached vessel to investigate and finds not only a mewling kitten—but a human skeleton in the cabin.
The skeleton is tied back to Chloe’s friend Ralph, whose wife disappeared on a sailboat with three other people twelve years ago. Believing his wife was lost at sea, Ralph remarried. Now he finds himself a murder suspect. Chloe is determined to find out who’s been up to some skulduggery, but her sleuthing will lead her into some rough waters and some bone-chilling revelations…
Chloe has made the decision to say goodbye to her life in Chicago and has loaded up her car with her important belongings and hit the road back to Emerald Cove and the Sea Glass Saloon. But before she returns to the saloon she does one of her favorite things, a morning run on the beach. The weather is foggy but she needs to get back to her routine. At first, she thinks the fog is playing with her but there is definitely a sailboat right up on a sandbar. She stops, and wonders how it got there but then she hears what sounds like a baby’s cry. She calls 911 and reports her find, drops her key ring, and removes her shoes when she hears another cry. She rushes to the boat but she doesn’t find a baby, she finds a kitten and a . . . human skeleton and realizes the boat has left the sand bar and is on the move.
Her shoes are found by the responders answering her 911 call. An all-out search takes place and she is found by a man in a cigarette boat who drops her near the saloon and takes off before she can even thank him. She does learn that the skeleton could be a woman who disappeared at sea 12 years ago. The wife of her new friend Ralph. He had had his wife declared dead and has remarried. Those things land him on the suspect list. There were other people on that missing sailboat and Chloe believes there is much more to the story that has evolved over those 12 missing years. Why did that sailboat reappear now and still be in pretty good shape? Where are the bodies/skeletons of the other passengers? She decides to look into the history a bit to try to answer those and other questions, but she may be treading water as she tries to tie the clues together.
I really like these characters. Chloe is still mourning the death of her friend Boone and is trying to fulfill his wishes. She and Boone’s grandmother, Vivi are going closer especially when a man arrives in town the could turn both their lives inside out. Joaquin has become a true friend as has his partner Michael. Rhett is also back in the picture, worried about Chloe. All these characters are fresh and unique as is the larger supporting cast that surrounds them. Chloe is still learning about the people of Emerald Cove and she takes some big steps in this story in getting to know them better.
Ms. Harris has treated her readers to a very complex mystery. There is a lot to untangle and a lot of moving parts. The mystery unfolds slowly keeping me intrigued the entire way. I was surprised as that mystery played out.
The author inserts a subplot mystery that is not completed within this story. I was caught up in that one just as much as the main mystery. In fact, when I flipped to the final page, I flipped back and forth a couple of times thinking I had missed its conclusion. I immediately thought, darn that Sherry Harris, she got me hook, line and sinker with a cliffhanger.
I was delighted by the humor in this story too. It breaks up the tense moments. One humorous scene has Chloe joining Joaquin and Micheal one evening. She wants to impress them with her ability to make the perfect martini. She brought all her own ingredients stating with just 3 ingredients what could go wrong? She presents the drinks and they all “take a big sip”
Ick. Maybe martinis were an acquired taste. I looked at Michael and Joaquín. They both had funny expressions on their faces. I wasn’t sure Joaquín had even swallowed his. I tried another sip. “This is awful,” I said. “This is a disgustatini, not a martini. It’s swill.” Michael and Joaquín burst out laughing. “It’s really bad, Chloe,” Michael said. “But I’ll give you points for trying.” “Let’s go in and you can show me what you did,” Joaquín said. “Eat some appetizers first,”
Then there was a little kidding about Chloe’s dislike of oysters . . . before we all learn what went wrong with the martinis. I was giggling until matters turned more serious as they delve into a more important issue.
Since I found Sherry’s Sarah W. Garage Sale Mysteries (which sadly the publisher has ended) she has become one of my favorite authors. Her mysteries make me think and I quickly become invested in her character’s lives. A Time to Swill is a prime example of this. I am truly invested in Chloe’s life. I was shouting internally, “No, don’t rush out to that boat!” It would have been a very short story if she hadn’t. She gets herself into troubling situations and I am all-in for the wild ride she takes us on. I cannot wait for our next adventure.
Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
Sherry Harris is the Agatha Award-nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery series and the upcoming Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mysteries. She is a past president of Sisters in Crime, and a member of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers.
In her spare time, Sherry loves reading and is a patent-holding inventor. Sherry, her husband, and guard dog Lily are living in northern Virginia until they figure out where they want to move to next.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”