“Someone is booked for murder”

  • Book: Murder At Sea Captain’s Inn – (Book magic Mysteries #2)
  • Location: North Carolina, Outer Banks
  • Author: Melissa Bourbon

Review Author: Yvonne@FictionBooks



Okay! First things first! Does this book work okay as a stand alone story? In my opinion, yes it does, but maybe not quite as well as book #1. Whilst any missing and relevant snippets of back-story were well integrated and explained, I really felt that to fully appreciate and engage with the light fantasy touch this series has, I needed to stay connected to the historic picture which had been painted so well in Murder In Devil’s Cove. Once again, there are one or two tantalising threads of the backstory just crying out for me to read book #3 when it is published, but I wouldn’t feel in any way cheated if for any reason, I didn’t get to read it. The murder/mystery feature was satisfyingly complete and well-rounded.

It didn’t take long for those opening lines to open out into a widescreen picture and for the action to begin. The storyline was broken up into bite-sized chapters, which kept things moving along seamlessly and at a good pace. The ending offered closure on the business at hand, with none of my worst fear ‘cliffhangers’, left dangling to tease me.

Each chapter begins with a tantalisingly delicious quote as a prelude to the direction the storyline is heading in over the next few pages. The words are taken from a seemingly random and diverse range of authors and wordsmiths, however the research undertaken for these passages alone must have been a painstaking and lengthy labour of love, and which having been so carefully chosen, definitely complement the author’s own narrative and dialogue.

Expanding and enhancing the ongoing fantasy elements of the storyline even more wonderfully, Murder At Sea Captain’s Inn, also comes into its own as an amazingly tripartite book, with plot, characters and location, all playing an equal part in the clever narrative. When I started out, I knew nothing about this part of North Carolina, but now, whilst still not professing to be any kind of local historian, my intrigue and interest has been piqued to the point where I have spent an amount of time in extra research about the area, fully satisfying my ‘armchair traveller’ curiosity. There was also a good diversion into the history surrounding the Roman conquest of Medieval Ireland, the relationship between two of its key figures and a curse which transcends generations, now resting with Pippin and Grey Lane Hawthorne.

A well structured, immersive, multi-layered storyline, with plenty of perceptive and well researched, social and cultural history. Textured and rich in atmosphere, the assured observational and descriptive narrative, blended with some excellent conversational dialogue, affords a real sense of time and place, adding visual depth and range to the storyline. A born storyteller, with a compelling and heart-warming style of writing which put me right at ease, author Melissa Bourbon has effortlessly and confidently developed Pippin into a tenacious and largely intuitive amateur sleuth, alongside her many other attributes, which include teaching sign language to a loyal and handsome ‘Sailor’ of the four-legged variety!

The characters are definitely given a huge voice and free reign to tell their own story, with just the slightest of guiding hands from their creator, so they generate their own synergy and dynamics, continuing to grow and develop in their individual roles as the series evolves. They are mostly genuine and believable, evoking a real sense of community and causing some amusing laugh-out-loud moments, which place me right there, as part of the action, a bystander who is visiting all the lovely artisanal businesses which they manage and who gets invited into their inner ‘family’ as a trusted silent witness to proceedings. Clearly though, the intimacy of such a small group can also have its disadvantages, as so far at least two of them have proved to be untrustworthy and dangerous individuals for Pippin to know. With others now even more determined than she to discover the secrets of her family curse and the physical treasures it might uncover, they are willing to up the ante in their bid to find the answers they seek.

The personal relationship between Pippin and bookshop owner Jamie, is still in its infancy and whilst not exactly stalling, things are progressing very slowly between them, as they each have their own family issues to resolve before either are prepared to make that leap of faith and commitment. The sibling dynamics between Pippin and her twin brother Grey are more than a little strained at the start of the story, as the bonds between them are stretched and tested far beyond anything which has gone before. Each wants to deal with the family ‘curse’ in their own way, although a catastrophic event will cement their relationship anew, as they decide that they are more powerful when they work together, than when they are tearing each other apart.

I read for so many reasons and from a variety of genres, and so far this series is ticking all those important boxes for me, even with the smattering of fantasy, which is not usually amongst my absolute favourites. I am constantly engaged and entertained by some excellent characters; I am enjoying the emotion of a fledgling romance and the sibling relationship; I find myself relishing the escapism and education of a centuries old curse, and a novice bibliomancer who allows the books to find her.

So far this series has taken me on a unique and interesting journey, so I can’t wait to discover where book #3 will lead me!

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Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021