Review of ‘Murder by the Sea’ by Deni Starr
Yes! This was way better than any expectations I had. With no early reviews yet, I was going into this book with a completely clean slate. What I did know is that Launch Point Press knows how to put out good mysteries so I had my fingers crossed. I didn’t need to cross them since this was a classic murder mystery novel at its best. I don’t know anything about the author Starr, but if you told me she went to the same mystery writer’s academy that greats like Sue Grafton went to, I would not be surprised. I had so much fun with this mystery.
Since this is such a well-done mystery, I want to be super careful not to give any spoilers away. I will talk about the premise but keep it very vague. What makes this mystery different than the norm is that the main character BJ is an ex-con, not a cop or private investigator. After being incarcerated for more than 7 years, BJ has learned how to think like a criminal and that gives her a real chance to solve her sister’s murder.
I don’t know what it is but I always find books with people trying to get used to the outside after being locked-up really interesting. In this case, BJ was stuck in jail, powerless when her beloved sister was murdered. The drive BJ has to learn the truth is the perfect set-up for a mystery. It was late when I started this book. I thought I would read a few chapters then go to bed. That did not happen. I could not put this book down. I had to read it all in one sitting, thank goodness the next day was a Sunday. While I would not call this a gripping page-turner, still as a reader you get so sucked into the story, into this mystery, that you don’t want to stop reading.
It was the perfect setting for a mystery. A small seaside town with the perfect amount of potential suspects, think Cabot Cove Maine (‘Murder, She Wrote’). It was set-up with that classic mystery feel too. You could tell Starr was giving away little clues and that if you could put them together you would have a chance at solving the crime too. It wasn’t obvious, you had to do some detective work, but having the chance to solve the mystery along with the main character is what makes a murder mystery book so much fun. I think it was really well done and I enjoyed every second of it.
The main character BJ is a lesbian, but this book doesn’t have a romance or any explicit sex scenes. BJ is interested in someone she meets, but everything is taken very slowly due to BJ’s past. I didn’t miss not being able to tag this book a romance at all. I was enjoying the mystery so much a romance wasn’t needed for me. The way the story ended this could be turned into a series. I could see it going either way, but if it is a series, the potential for a romance is there to come.
Like all good mysteries, this book had an exciting climax. Not to brag but I was very proud of myself for figuring out the mystery but damn the ending! It was so good! While it won’t be a surprise if you can pick up the clues in the book, it still is a total shocker. I know that doesn’t make sense but trust me. It was a real OMG moment that left my mouth hanging open and I loved it! It truly was one of the better endings to a mystery book that I have read in a long time.
In case you could not tell, I absolutely recommend this book to mystery fans. This is not fast-paced or a thriller, but it’s a straight-up classic mystery with great clues that was fun to read. This book is a little gem that I know is going on my favorite list of 2020. I hope more mystery fans will give this a chance. It’s too good to miss. 4.50 stars.
A copy was given to me for an honest review.