Wednesday, May 17, 2023

"Murder on Mustang Beach"

Alicia Bessette is the Edgar® Award-nominated author of the bestselling Outer Banks Bookshop mystery series. Before writing fiction, she worked as a reporter in her home state of Massachusetts, where her journalism 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.

Bessette applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Murder on Mustang Beach, and reported the following:
On page 69 of Murder on Mustang Beach, book 2 in the Outer Banks Bookshop mystery series, your heroine Callie Padget visits the vacation home occupied by the relatives and friends of a murder victim. Callie is shown the last known photograph of the man who was killed. It was taken during a deep-sea fishing excursion.
I had the same sobering thought as when I saw the wedding photo. There he was, so alive, so animated—when in reality he was cold as a headstone, lying in the morgue.
She goes on to observe the quirky décor surrounding her:
… the living room was brimming with bric-a-brac. There were stacks of old books, which I definitely would have riffled through if weren’t trying to be unobtrusive. There was a crate of hammered screws. A basket of whelk shells. A doll carriage spilling over with dolls. In fact, now that I looked, well-organized junk was pretty much everywhere, next to little signs saying FREE. Apparently, not many renters had taken advantage of that offer…
Page 69 pretty well captures the vibe of the cozy mystery. While Murder on Mustang Beach is on the lighter, breezier side of crime fiction, Callie keeps in mind that murder is no laughing matter, and that its repercussions are far-reaching. Her sensitivity makes her a trustworthy sleuth.

Speaking of sensitivity, I’d say that page 69 showcases Callie’s powers of observation. She lets her senses guide her, taking in sights, sounds, smells, and so on. It’s a habit she developed during a previous stint as a newspaper reporter, and it serves her well as she tracks down killers.

Page 69 also hints at the bibliophile themes in Murder on Mustang Beach. Callie works in a small island bookshop and finds loads of inspiration within the pages of books. It’s no wonder she has to resist the urge to paw through the titles inside the rental home!

Murder on Mustang Beach is the sequel to book 1, Smile Beach Murder. Eleven months have passed. Spring is blooming as Callie’s soon-to-be boyfriend nears the end of his year-long celibacy experiment, so there’s lots of tension and energy crackling in the salty air of Cattail Island, where Callie lives, loves—and solves crimes.
Visit Alicia Bessette's website.

--Marshal Zeringue