- Author: Frances Evesham
- Published: September 2015 by AinsleyAssociates
- Category: Cosy Murder Mystery
Amateur female sleuth Libby Forest arrives in the small town after years in a disastrous marriage, to build a new life making cakes and chocolates in Exham on Sea. She finds a body under the lighthouse and discovers her own talent for solving mysteries, helped by Bear, an enormous Carpathian Sheepdog, and Fuzzy, an aloof marmalade cat.
The first short read in the series, set in the coastal resort of Exham on Sea, Murder at the Lighthouse introduces a cast of local characters, including Mandy the teenage Goth, Frank Wolf the baker at Wolf’s the Bread and Detective Sergeant Joe Ramshore, Max’s estranged son. The green fields, rolling hills and sandy beaches of the West Country provide the perfect setting for crime, intrigue and mystery.
When dog walker Libby Forest takes her charge, Shipley, on the beach one cold and blustery day, she discovers a body under the lighthouse.
The police determine it’s that of a once local woman, Susie Bennet, who left Exham on Sea years ago to become a rock star in America. Exham’s Detective Inspector, the patronising Joe Ramshore labels the death a suicide but Libby isn’t so sure.
Libby and her cat, Fuzzy, moved to Exham on Sea to start a new life after the end of her terrible marriage. She works part-time at Wolf the Bread’s Bakery while developing cake recipes and writing a cookery book. After an episode caused inadvertently by Fuzzy and a huge Carpathian Sheepdog, Libby’s car lost the battle with a lamp-post and she meets the mysterious Max Ramshore, father of Joe, who knew Susie well. And when an elderly lady who Libby spoke to about Susie is found dead in suspicious circumstances, Libby finds it too much of a coincidence. She and Max decide to begin their own investigation.
“You’d better let me know anything you find out. And Max, there’s one question we have to answer.”
“If she’s been living in the US since the 1990’s, with no contact with anyone in England, what the heck was she doing on Tuesday on the beach at Exham on Sea?”
Reading Murder At The Lighthouse was very enjoyable, as was meeting the characters who inhabit the seaside town. Like all small communities, mostly everyone knows each other, gossip thrives and secrets are plentiful. Libby has resolved to be more self-reliant and confident after the misery of her marriage and controlling husband. Now she has the house and kitchen of her dreams, she plans to enjoy and make the most of them, and her new life.
Max was very friendly with Susie when she lived in Exham on Sea and kept in touch after she left for America. He looked after a bank account he set up for Susie, although he didn’t know why she wanted it. Libby couldn’t help wondering what Max did for a living that would allow him to make a spur of the moment trip to the US. He planned on some undercover work to see if any clues came to light with a little digging into Susie’s life and relationships.
I really like Mandy, the teenage Goth, who works with Libby at the bakery. The girl’s eyes, black with layers of kohl and mascara, were enormous in the white painted face. Two silver rings decorated one nostril, above purple lips. Mandy’s home life is disrupted by a bully of a father, prone to violence.
A short and entertaining read, with great characters who I think have lots of potential for future stories. I’m familiar with the area, and had no trouble picturing the setting.
This book is reviewed for Rosie Amber‘s book review team and is based on a digital copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.
(Note: The Lighthouse was built in 1832 by Joseph Nelson to compliment the original round structure which was found to be at too low a vantage point for the huge tides in the Bristol Channel) I haven’t actually seen the lighthouse when the red stripe is in evidence, I’m not sure if it’s still painted that way now.
About the author
Frances Evesham writes mystery stories: the Exham on Sea contemporary crime series set in a small Somerset seaside town, and the Thatcham Hall Mysteries, 19th Century historical mystery romances set in Victorian England.
She collects grandsons, Victorian ancestors and historical trivia, likes to smell the roses, lavender and rosemary, and cooks with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other. She loves the Arctic Circle and the equator and plans to visit the penguins in the south one day.
She’s been a speech therapist, a professional communicator and a road sweeper and worked in the criminal courts. Now, she walks in the country and breathes sea air in Somerset.