When a killer stirs up trouble in the Outer Banks, amateur sleuth and bookseller Callie Padget is on the case, in a new beachside mystery from author Alicia Bessette.
Cattail Island in the Outer Banks is a popular destination for honeymooners and nature lovers alike. So it is a huge blow when the murder of a newlywed grinds the pre-summer season to a screeching halt. Bookseller Callie Padget launches her own investigation, after mysterious customer Geri-Lynn Humfeld, caretaker of the island’s protected wild horses, brings in an irresistible piece of information.
Determined to restore order and safety to her beloved hometown, Callie searches for answers—even as those answers cast suspicion on her soon-to-be boyfriend, Toby Dodge, whose martial arts studio was the scene of the crime. As she digs deeper, Toby becomes the police’s prime suspect. The truth raises troubling questions and sends her scouring the bookshop’s shelves for guidance.
Meanwhile, a well-loved member of the mustang herd—a pregnant mare whose anticipated foal is a symbol of summery hope for locals and visitors alike—may be facing dire circumstances. With help from Geri-Lynn, Callie unearths startling secrets surrounding not only the compromised mare, but the murdered newlywed, too. And when another body shows up, this time on isolated Mustang Beach, she must race against time to stop a killer from claiming any more innocent lives.
Before authoring the Outer Banks Bookshop Mysteries, Alicia Bessette worked as a reporter in her home state of Massachusetts, where her writing won a first-place award from the New England Newspaper & Press Association. A pianist, published poet, and enthusiastic bird-watcher, she now loves living in coastal North Carolina with her husband, novelist Matthew Quick.
PRAISE FOR THE OUTER BANKS BOOKSHOP MYSTERIES
“What a great read! Elegant prose. A twisty plot. Characters I wanted to know. Truly, I was captivated by Alicia Bessette's Murder on Mustang Beach. Beautifully crafted, thoroughly enjoyable.” -Jane K. Cleland, bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author of Mastering Plot Twists and the Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries
“A captivating whodunit that will have readers longing to return to Alicia Bessette’s coastal North Carolina again and again.” - Ellery Adams
"Smile Beach Murder is a must read for all mystery lovers. Bessette has taken all of the best components of a cozy mystery and layered the story with complicated characters, a compelling plot, a fabulous setting, and a very relatable amateur sleuth. This mystery was so engaging and engrossing, I couldn't put it down! I hope there are many more mysteries to come with Callie Padget and Cattail Island."
—Jenn McKinlay, New York Times bestselling author of Wait For It
“Familiar cozy mystery setup with a fresh shot of warmth and verve….Smile Beach Murder juggles present-day murders with a level of menace that seems elevated for typical cozy fare.”
—New York Times Book Review
"A whirlwind of a story that delights with sand, spindrift, and Blackbeard’s treasure. This book is, literally, a beach read! Bessette’s stunning new cozy swept me off to the Outer Banks and had me turning pages right up to the twisty (and thrilling!) conclusion. Upbeat prose, likable characters, and a strong sense of place. Best of all, the stealthy scatter of clues leads to a whopping good payoff. This delightful new mystery oozes with tension, eccentric characters, and bursts of slick prose. It definitely got my blood fizzing.”
—Laura Childs, New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries
“Eva Meeks did not commit suicide—of that Callie Padget is sure. Her own mother was thought to die that way. But Callie knew Eva too well to believe that. Now it's up to her to figure out just what happened—despite the danger. Alicia Bessette's gift for description will transport you to Cattail Island and the salty air of coastal North Carolina. [A] must read!”
—Lorna Barrett, New York Times bestselling author of A Deadly Deletion
"Bessette offers everything a cozy lover could possibly want: a charming setting with a host of quirky natives, a bookstore with a cat, a lighthouse, and a hunky potential boyfriend. With any luck, the appealing Callie will be back soon."
"The perfect mystery to kickstart your summer.... Smile Beach Murder packs a wallop of mystery and intrigue... with an ending that will leave you on the edge of your seat."
"Bessette captures the charm of the Outer Banks with her vivid descriptions of laid-back island life. It’s easy to root for Callie, who’s resourceful and brave even when she finds herself staring down confessed killers and deadly sharks. Readers will finish Smile Beach Murder cheering for Callie and eager for many more cases to come."
“A perfectly plotted mystery from a wonderful writer, Smile Beach Murder is everything I want from a cozy—barrier-island beaches, a welcoming bookshop, a quaint small town—all balanced against deep secrets and complicated deaths. Callie Padget is a sharp and compassionate amateur sleuth with a compelling backstory, and a quirky cast of characters, family and townspeople alike, round out the story. I can’t wait to see what washes up next on the shores of Cattail Island!”
—J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Her Dark Lies
“I love every wise, graceful word Alicia Bessette writes, and Smile Beach Murder is a perfect example of why: Her descriptions are so vivid you can feel salty tang of the ocean breeze, and her pages are populated by quirky, unique characters. Throw in a murder with eerie echos of the past, and you’ve got a recipe for an absolutely terrific summer read.”
—Sarah Pekkanen, New York Times bestselling co-author of The Golden Couple
"Bessette, a poet as well as a novelist, pens a vivid narrative that places readers amidst the sunbaked beaches, humid sea air, and wild mustangs of the beautiful Outer Banks ... The author throws out red herrings and leads a merry chase toward the big reveal, all the while introducing Cattail Island’s colorful characters and suspects ... Fans of cozies unafraid to skirt a darker edge will enjoy their trip to Smile Beach… I, for one, am already looking forward to my next outing with Callie." -Mystery Scene
“Alicia Bessette’s vibrant descriptions and multifaceted characters paint such a vivid picture of the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the often eccentric, laid-back lifestyle that is island life, reading Smile Beach Murder is like taking a relaxing beach vacation…with a little dose of murder thrown in. You will smell the sea air, hear waves crash against the shore, and feel the warm sand between your toes as you join booklover Callie Padget on her quest to come to terms with her past and catch a modern-day murderer.”
—Annelise Ryan, USA Today bestselling author of A Death in Door County
“Smile Beach Murder had me on the edge of my seat! When Callie returns to Cattail Island, the last thing she wants to do is dig into the past, but a present-day murder forces long-buried secrets to the surface. Cozy fans will love how mystery novels are a touchstone in this wonderful series debut by Alicia Bessette.”
—Peggy Rothschild, author of A Deadly Bone to Pick
“Smile Beach Murder combines an island setting with a death, a bookshop, a lighthouse, a treasure hunt, and a mystery. What could be more exciting?....The well-plotted and beautifully executed story gradually builds momentum until it reaches the astonishing conclusion....this story is a well-written and engaging novel with humor, suspense, some action, and the possibility of romance."
—Mystery & Suspense Magazine
“The perfect escape! … Gorgeous beachy scenery, a little romance and exciting twists and turns.” -First For Women
“Fun … gorgeous … immersive.” -Criminal Element