Murder at Redwood Cove by Janet Finsilver is close to the perfect cozy. It has a murder (of course), a strong cast of characters, a touch of romance, and a well-developed setting. Kelly Jackson is the new, temporary manager at the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast. It is a beautiful place, the food is delicious, and everyone there is friendly. The only problem is she’s replacing a man who fell of a nearby cliff to his death, and many of his friends think it was murder. As Kelly attempts to figure out what happened, she is attacked and material is stolen.
One of the difficulties with amateur sleuths is giving them an adequate reason to get involved. Finsilver has handled this well: Kelly is replacing the man who died, and there are just enough suspicious happenings to make her wonder without making the police seem stupid for having decided it was an accident. With the former manager’s friends on site presenting their case, and worried parents on staff trying to protect their children, she has every motivation to start looking, and subsequent events justify her continuing.
The bed and breakfast is a gathering place for a variety of people, giving the book a colorful set of characters. There’s The Silver Sentinels, a group of older, retired people who have taken it on themselves to guard the community—and who have had successes in the past. Then there’s Helen, assistant and cook, her son Tommy, Daniel the maintenance supervisor, Suzy, manager of a nearby hotel, and a host of other suspects and helpers. It’s a good group, large enough to be a viable pool but not so large that one gets lost in trying to keep track of everyone. There is also just a hint of romance between Kelly and another manager in her company. It’s not so much that it overwhelms the mystery, but it’s enough to hint at further, gradual and enjoyable development over subsequent books.
The mystery is well-paced and thought out, with clues carefully embedded in the narrative and mixed in with the daily events of managing Redwood Cove. The mystery is the center of the story, but the bed and breakfast and its surroundings make for a strong and enjoyable central setting.
Murder at Redwood Cove is an excellent cozy mystery. It will keep your brain active while allowing you to relax an enjoy the Cove’s surroundings. Here’s hoping for many more books in Janet Finsilver’s series!
Murder at Redwood Cover comes out October 13, 2015. Look for it on Amazon.