Ellery isn’t exactly living in Pirate’s Cove as a first choice. It’s more of a last ditch effort to restart his life after dealing with a cheating ex and a less than stellar career as a failed actor turned screen writer. Once Ellery found out he is the chief inheritor of a distant and quirky aunt’s estate, leaving him a less than thriving bookstore and a falling down around your ears house, he moved right away to the ideal seaside town. Once there, the local smarmy real estate mogul and mayoral candidate Trevor Maples descends, insisting Ellery name his price so he can buy the store. The guy just won’t take no for an answer, refusing to believe that Ellery intends to keep the bookstore, even though it’s bleeding him dry financially.
After yet another confrontation, Ellery is returning from the local pub and sees his store all lit up, discovers the door unlocked, and finds Trevor’s dead body bleeding all over the wood floor. Before he can process it all, Ellery finds himself the main suspect, as labeled by the not so charming, but still appealing, police chief, Jack Carson, and himself the target of someone willing to go to any lengths to frame him for the murder. As the body count rises, Ellery and Jack must grudgingly work together to figure out who wants Ellery’s business so badly they are willing to kill for it.
Josh Lanyon has begun a new series, Secrets and Scrabble, and things start off with Murder at Pirate’s Cove. More mystery-centric than romance driven, this little gem is humorous, flirtatious, and chock full of quirky, small town characters. But it’s Ellery who really stands center stage and captures the interest and will continue to do so if this first book is anything to go by. Having said goodbye to a life that left him a little heartsore, ready for a career change, and vowing never date again, Ellery moves to the sweet little town of Pirate’s Cove to start over. Even though he knows it’s the off season, his inherited bookstore is still flagging and bleeding money everywhere—not to mention the financial burden the mausoleum he has also inherited has become, needing way more than just a facelift to make it habitable.
When murder comes to his doorstep, Ellery is horrified to discover that the chief of police suspects him. Despite every attempt to be charming and as un-murdery as possible, Ellery finds himself the center of town gossip and condemned as guilty. After he accidentally discovers something incriminating in a hidden closet, Ellery realizes he is going to have to take matters into his own hands in order to clear his name, but while he may be a master at scrabble, he stinks as an amateur detective. Thus begins Ellery’s adventure as a not so capable sleuth, much to Jack Carson’s dismay.
These two are a mismatched pair made in heaven, as far as I’m concerned. With most of the novel not hurrying to reveal whether or not Jack is bisexual and Ellery slowly falling for the cryptic chief, the sexual tension is high, yet not the main focus. Instead, this is all about the mystery and unraveling who the killer actually is and why they chose to frame poor Ellery. We meet some really fascinating town folk—all quirky and suspect in their own right. While this novel has more Jessica Fletcher overtones than Ellery Queen, it’s safe to say that mystery lovers will enjoy this delightful glimpse into the goings on in a seaside town.
I think my only quibble with this novel lay in the idea that we don’t get a clear picture of whether or not Jack and Ellery are going to move forward with their attraction to each other. I must assume that the next book in this series will involve Ellery again, as there is no clear cut secondary character who would warrant an entire novel based on them, so I was hoping the author would give us a bit more romance fodder than we got in this initial story. However, that falls to more my desire than any real fault in the novel itself, so suffice it to say, I am hooked and look forward to the next installment in the series.