You know it’s officially summertime when a novel from best-selling author Mary Kay Andrews arrives on the scene. You also know she’s going to set the story somewhere in the south. I love that about her. And it’s going to be at a beach. Another thing to love.
This time the scene is an island off the coast of North Carolina. Belle Isle is loosely taken from an actual island called Bald Head Island. Both islands can only be accessed by private boat or ferry from the mainland. Belle Isle is home to a certain group of people: the people who live there year round, and the ones called weekenders who only arrive for the weekends during the summer season.
Riley Griggs is a little of both. Her family has lived on Belle Isle for generations, and they have owned property and run a business forever. The story beings on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. Riley’s about to board the ferry with her twelve-year-old daughter Maggie and Maggie’s pug puppy. They’re waiting rather impatiently for Maggie’s dad, and Riley’s estranged husband. The man does not show up. Maggie is bereft. Riley is fuming. While crossing to the island Riley is served with paperwork. Thinking it’s just divorce papers, she doesn’t even give it a glance. Is just really madder than a hornet that her soon-to-be ex would have her served in front of their daughter. But, low and behold, when they get to the island and try to enter their home, there is an eviction notice on the door. This paperwork is a foreclosure notice for the house they built with Riley’s family money. And, so, the story begins to truly heat up.
On this island paradise lives Riley’s very meddling mother and her aunt and her alcoholic brother. Off Riley goes to unwillingly stay overnight until this “house” misunderstanding gets straightened out. When the sheriff shows up to tell Riley her husband has been found murdered down at the marina, the story shifts into even higher gear, and we have a mystery.
Mary Kay Andrews gives us not only a good summer beach read, but she’s thrown in a murder mystery as well. Clues are tossed around as to who the guilty one is, throughout. But I did not guess. Surprise.
Mostly, I think the characters are believable. A bit much with Maggie, but girls at this age can be intolerable. Throw in a love interest, which there is. Can you say dot, com billionaire? And you have a satisfying read. Highly recommended.
I met Mary Kay Andrews many years ago when she was writing cozy mysteries. We were at Yellow Spring, Ohio at a writer’s conference. She was using her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck. She said her wish was to write a best seller. She’s gone on to do it over and over again!
My review copy came from St. Martin’s press in exchange for an honest review. I think it’s one of her best yet!