Murder on Mustang Beach (Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery)
2nd in Series
Setting – Outer Banks, North Carolina
Berkley (May 16, 2023)
Hardcover : 336 pages
ISBN-10 : 0593336917
ISBN-13 : 978-0593336915
Kindle ASIN : B0B8GQFHWQ
When a killer stirs up trouble in the Outer Banks, amateur sleuth and bookseller Callie Padget is on the case, in a new beachside mystery from author Alicia Bessette.
Cattail Island in the Outer Banks is a popular destination for honeymooners and nature lovers alike. So it is a huge blow when the murder of a newlywed grinds the pre-summer season to a screeching halt. Bookseller Callie Padget launches her own investigation, after mysterious customer Geri-Lynn Humfeld, caretaker of the island’s protected wild horses, brings in an irresistible piece of information.
Determined to restore order and safety to her beloved hometown, Callie searches for answers—even as those answers cast suspicion on her soon-to-be boyfriend, Toby Dodge, whose martial arts studio was the scene of the crime. As she digs deeper, Toby becomes the police’s prime suspect. The truth raises troubling questions and sends her scouring the bookshop’s shelves for guidance.
Meanwhile, a well-loved member of the Mustang herd—a pregnant mare whose anticipated foal is a symbol of summery hope for locals and visitors alike—may be facing dire circumstances. With help from Geri-Lynn, Callie unearths startling secrets surrounding not only the compromised mare but the murdered newlywed, too. And when another body shows up, this time on isolated Mustang Beach, she must race against time to stop a killer from claiming any more innocent lives.
We are back on Cattail Island with bookseller Callie Padget and murder strikes very close to home when a dead body is found at Toby Dodge’s martial arts studio. The man had just been married and the death rocks the island. Caretaker of the herd of Mustangs on the island, Geri-Lynn Humfeld, gives a great piece of information as Callie gets started on her own investigation to clear Toby’s name. Geri-Lynn also asks for Callie’s help locating a pregnant mare who has disappeared just a few days before she is due to deliver. Tourists and residents are all invested in the foal’s birth. Time is of the essence when it comes to finding the mare and the killer. The question is will Callie survive her investigation or will she go missing too?
Callie is still adjusting to being back on Cattail Island. Living in a loft over her Uncle Hudson’s garage is all she can afford right now. Her job at the bookstore fulfills her needs in many ways but not enough financially to get her own place. The way she finds solace in the shop in the middle of the night makes her so relatable to a book lover like me. Her relationship with Toby Dodge, the martial arts expert has proceeded at an interesting pace due to his “yearlong abstinence experience”. The year was finally up but the relationship hits a bump when murder served up a curve with him as a suspect. I appreciate the way the author allowed their relationship to develop at his pace and that Callie was comfortable and understanding to give him the time he needed.
Geri-Lynn Humfeld is an intriguing character. Her life is her horses, their care, finding funding, and protecting them from people who do stupid things to get close to them. I liked the friendship that built over the course of the story between her and Callie and the way they worked together especially when things turned dire.
Like in Smile Beach Murder, Ms. Bessette has written a very complex mystery. At first, Callie isn’t sure how she can help Geri-Lynn find her missing horse but her murder investigation keeps bringing her back to the sanctuary. When the clues started to fall into place for me and Callie at the same time I was really caught off guard but a theme that had run through the book made it all make sense and how people can be pushed in unimaginable ways. The reveal really ratcheted up the suspense with more than one edge-of-the-seat moment. Callie is a strong woman in several ways and she pulled on all that strength as the exciting scenes, which were vividly described, played out.
I have heard so much about the Outer Banks Mustangs over the years. Sadly our one family vacation to North Carolina didn’t include a visit to see them so I love when they show up in my fictional reading. Ms. Bessette describes everything so wonderfully. Because of her details, I got to know so much about them. It doesn’t replace actually going there but it sure did make me add an Outer Banks visit to my bucket list to see the beautiful historic animals. I loved the way they were featured in this book and that a book from Callie’s bookstore revealed a monumental clue.
Murder on Mustang Beach was a marvelous escape. The subject matter was fresh and current. The characters are engaging and the mystery was compelling and entertaining. If you are making your summer reading lists be sure to add both of the books in this series.
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About the Author
Before authoring the Outer Banks Bookshop mystery series, Alicia Bessette worked as a reporter in her home state of Massachusetts, where her writing won a first-place award from the New England Newspaper & Press Association. A pianist, published poet, and enthusiastic birdwatcher, she now loves living in coastal North Carolina with her husband, novelist Matthew Quick. Visit her online at aliciabessette.com, on Instagram, or on Facebook.
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.”