Smile Beach Murder

Books on Tape. (Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery, Bk. 1). May 2022. 9:30 hrs. ISBN 9780593558591. $76. M
Narrator Karissa Vacker’s warm, wistful tone perfectly captures the beachy feel of the inaugural book in the “Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery” series from Bessette (A Pinch of Love). After being let go from her newspaper job, Callie Paget reluctantly returns to Cattail Island, NC, convinced she’ll stay at home just until another journalism gig comes up. Working at the local bookstore in the meantime, Callie encounters childhood friend Eva Meeks, who is excitedly looking for books about Blackbeard’s treasure, certain she’s uncovered a clue to its whereabouts. The next day, Eva is found dead at the foot of the lighthouse—26 years after Callie’s mother died the same way—and Callie refuses to accept the explanation of suicide, given Eva’s enthusiastic treasure hunt and her devotion to her young daughter. As Callie investigates, stirring up secrets from the past as well as the present, her own life is threatened. Vacker marvelously varies her accents and pitch to portray Bessette’s quirky characters, all of whom are vividly drawn, despite the size and diversity of the cast.
VERDICT Mystery fans will enjoy Vacker’s delightful performance of this compelling series launch.
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