Review: Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 4.5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

What It’s About:

Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence.

Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

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My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed Mary Kay Andrews’ Sunset Beach!  It’s a great blend of family drama, romance, and mystery.  I’ve listened to several of Mary Kay Andrews’ books, and I have enjoyed them all. Sunset Beach has more depth and a better-defined mystery plot than Ms. Andrews’ prior books, and I couldn’t put down this fun cozy mystery.

There is a good deal of scene set up and character development, and lucky for the reader, the plot contains not one but two mysteries. Both are nicely plotted with building tension throughout the story.  My usual complaint about cozy mysteries is that the crime is presented, and then it is basically abandoned until the miraculous reveal at the end.  I was so delighted that the mysteries and the unraveling were both thoughtfully explored throughout the story.

The story is told from the point of view of the heroine, Drue Campbell.  She is portrayed as a strong, independent woman, but there were many times that she seemed like a woman-child who petulantly fought her father and her, rather unlikable, step-mother.  While pursuing justice for Jazmin and a 40-year-old missing person case, Drue juggles a few prospective romantic relationships.  I loved the author’s use of the shabby and in-need-of-a-renovation beach cottage as a metaphor for Drue’s life.  Between the chip on her shoulder, her life changing accident, and the loss of her mother and job, Drue is in a state of disrepair at the start of the book. As she investigates the mysteries and cleans up her inherited cottage, her life and attitude also improve.

Sunset Beach is an engaging, easy-to-read cozy mystery.  While the cover might bring to mind “beach read”, readers will be glued to the book wherever they are reading!



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