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Smile Beach Murder

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When Callie is laid off from her reporting job, she returns to her hometown of Cattail Island and lands a gig at the local bookstore -- the same one where she found comfort after her mother died. In fact, the anniversary of her mother's infamous death is approaching. Years ago, Teri Padget tumbled from the top of the lighthouse. As islanders are once again gossiping about When Callie is laid off from her reporting job, she returns to her hometown of Cattail Island and lands a gig at the local bookstore -- the same one where she found comfort after her mother died. In fact, the anniversary of her mother's infamous death is approaching. Years ago, Teri Padget tumbled from the top of the lighthouse. As islanders are once again gossiping about the tragedy, devestating news strikes: the lighthouse has claimed another victim -- Eva Meeks, of Meeks Hardware. The police are calling it suicide, but Callie does not believe Eva jumped any more than she believes her mother did -- especially because Callie knows that before her death, Eva had dug up a long-forgotten treasure hunt that could have put a target on Eva's back. In Callie's search for answers, she enlists the help of some beloved books and several new friends, including the handsome local martial arts instructor, Toby Dodge. But when another death rocks Cattail Island, Callie must face her fears alone. As she earns enemies in pursuit of the truth, Callie knows she will either uncover the killer or become a victim herself.


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When Callie is laid off from her reporting job, she returns to her hometown of Cattail Island and lands a gig at the local bookstore -- the same one where she found comfort after her mother died. In fact, the anniversary of her mother's infamous death is approaching. Years ago, Teri Padget tumbled from the top of the lighthouse. As islanders are once again gossiping about When Callie is laid off from her reporting job, she returns to her hometown of Cattail Island and lands a gig at the local bookstore -- the same one where she found comfort after her mother died. In fact, the anniversary of her mother's infamous death is approaching. Years ago, Teri Padget tumbled from the top of the lighthouse. As islanders are once again gossiping about the tragedy, devestating news strikes: the lighthouse has claimed another victim -- Eva Meeks, of Meeks Hardware. The police are calling it suicide, but Callie does not believe Eva jumped any more than she believes her mother did -- especially because Callie knows that before her death, Eva had dug up a long-forgotten treasure hunt that could have put a target on Eva's back. In Callie's search for answers, she enlists the help of some beloved books and several new friends, including the handsome local martial arts instructor, Toby Dodge. But when another death rocks Cattail Island, Callie must face her fears alone. As she earns enemies in pursuit of the truth, Callie knows she will either uncover the killer or become a victim herself.

30 review for Smile Beach Murder

  1. 5 out of 5

    PamG

    Alicia Bessette’s 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? This first book in the Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery series captured my attention immediately and kept me engaged throughout. Laid off from her reporter job, Callie Padget returns home to her home on fictional Cattail Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She gets a part-time job at the local independent bookstore. As she ma Alicia Bessette’s 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? This first book in the Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery series captured my attention immediately and kept me engaged throughout. Laid off from her reporter job, Callie Padget returns home to her home on fictional Cattail Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She gets a part-time job at the local independent bookstore. As she makes contact with old friends and neighbors as well as some new ones, she searches for answers when there is a tragic death. However, investigations don’t go smoothly. She seems to upset everyone from the police to the local newspaper staff to the richest family on the island to the family of the deceased. Will Callie find the answers she’s looking for? Callie is a likeable and relatable character that is tenacious in her pursuit of the truth. Many of the other characters had agendas that are revealed through their actions and inactions. Overall, the characterization is excellent with a protagonist that comes alive. Her will to find the truth generates a motivation that stirs the pot and results in a good conflict. I like the cast of characters for this book as each character had a very different perspective and distinct personalities. Tin Man, the bookstore cat with his own social media following, is a great addition to the cast of characters. The descriptive narrative transported me to the coast of North Carolina. The story moved at a good pace that kept me reading. I thoroughly enjoyed the author and book references included throughout the novel. The author does a great job of balancing the shocking and tense aspects of the novel against the bookstore and community events. The well-plotted and beautifully executed story gradually builds momentum until it reaches the astonishing conclusion. There are plenty of red herrings in this story as well as some humor. Will you guess what happened and solve the puzzles? Other themes weaved into the novel include grief, friendship, secrets, and family. While I’ve seen this categorized as a cozy mystery, it has some topics and some action that is a little darker than many in the genre. Overall, this story is a well-written and engaging novel with humor, suspense, some action, and the possibility of romance. If you’re a fan of the beach, puzzles, treasure hunts, bookstores, cats, and sleuth mysteries, then I recommend that you check out this one. It’s a good start to a series and I am looking forward to finding out what happens next on Cattail Island. Berkley Publishing Group and Alicia Bessette provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for May 10, 2022. This review was originally posted at Mystery and Suspense Magazine.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    3.5 ⭐ I would love to revisit the charming Cattail Island! Callie returns home after being let go from her reporter job in Charlotte. It wasn't easy to go back when her mother died from falling off the lighthouse. She lives with uncle Hudson and shortly found a temporary job at a local bookstore. A small-town setting and good company usually get me to pick up a cozy mystery. When you add a lighthouse, you can count me in! There's also a bit of a treasure hunt theme and some action. Our leading lady 3.5 ⭐ I would love to revisit the charming Cattail Island! Callie returns home after being let go from her reporter job in Charlotte. It wasn't easy to go back when her mother died from falling off the lighthouse. She lives with uncle Hudson and shortly found a temporary job at a local bookstore. A small-town setting and good company usually get me to pick up a cozy mystery. When you add a lighthouse, you can count me in! There's also a bit of a treasure hunt theme and some action. Our leading lady is likable and uses her journalist background to find the killer. There's a hint of romance with an interesting martial arts guy, Toby who's been giving Callie some self-defense tips. I thought it was quite a sweet cozy mystery with books and a bookshop cat, Tin Man. My only complaint is the pace. It was a little slow after halfway before a relatively exciting ending. The author did a wonderful job describing the island and I wish that I was there!👒🌊 Thank you Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley for this DRC.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette is the first book in the cozy Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery series. As with most cozy mystery series the books in this series each feature a new mystery to be fully solved so they can be read as a standalone or in any order if choosing to do so. There will be however character development that carries over from book to book for those following from the beginning. Callie grew up on Cattail Island but had left the small town to pursue a career as a journalist. C Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette is the first book in the cozy Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery series. As with most cozy mystery series the books in this series each feature a new mystery to be fully solved so they can be read as a standalone or in any order if choosing to do so. There will be however character development that carries over from book to book for those following from the beginning. Callie grew up on Cattail Island but had left the small town to pursue a career as a journalist. Callie’s memories weren’t the greatest from her childhood as she had lost her mother to a tragic incident but when Callie loses her job she decides to return to Cattail Island while she decides what is next in her life. As Callie begins to fit into her small town again taking a job at the local bookstore working for old friends she begins to remember some fonder moments. However, the past comes crashing back for Callie when another friend is found at the bottom of the lighthouse, the same that Callie’s mother fell from. The police rule another suicide but this time Callie knows that is not the case and vows to get to the truth. Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette was a wonderful opening installment to the Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery series. I have to admit being a fan of a beachy small town setting the Outer Banks really appealed to me and the author did a great job bringing the town and characters to life. I loved that Callie had a reporting background to give little more credit to her sleuthing and I enjoyed getting to know her and those surrounding her. Also mixing the past and the present made the mystery twice as interesting to follow. Will definitely be interested in returning to the series with book two! I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley. For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Quick

    A beautifully written, big-hearted, FUN novel. You definitely want to go to Cattail Island!

  5. 4 out of 5

    LORI CASWELL

    Dollycas’s Thoughts Callie Padget tragically lost her mom years ago when she fell from the top of the local lighthouse so coming home to Cattail Island after being laid off from her job was not easy. Moving back into the loft above her uncle Hudson’s garage she takes a job at the bookstore where she found solace at all those years ago until she can find another newspaper position. She has reconnected with her old friend Eva Weeks. She and her sister are now running the family hardware store. Eve Dollycas’s Thoughts Callie Padget tragically lost her mom years ago when she fell from the top of the local lighthouse so coming home to Cattail Island after being laid off from her job was not easy. Moving back into the loft above her uncle Hudson’s garage she takes a job at the bookstore where she found solace at all those years ago until she can find another newspaper position. She has reconnected with her old friend Eva Weeks. She and her sister are now running the family hardware store. Eve is also the island’s foremost treasure hunt junkie and Blackbeard is rumored to have buried treasure on the island. In fact, she called Callie wanting to meet up to discuss the new clue she found for a new hunt. Sadly before they could meet Eva was found dead at the foot of the lighthouse eerily on almost the same date as Callie’s mother. The police have declared the death a suicide and Callie just can’t accept that. She doesn’t believe Eva jumped anymore than she ever believed her mother did. Eva was too excited about her new treasure hunt to take her own life. Then another young woman is killed, and again police believe she took her own life and won’t even contemplate the deaths may be related. That just pushes Callie harder to prove them wrong. Did Eva uncover something that should have stayed buried? Are all three deaths connected? Callie knows she could end up the killer’s next victim but she really needs to find the truth and to do that she must finish the treasure hunt her friend started. I was surprisingly drawn to reading this book when my heart was telling me to pass it by. The book has a suicide theme but I decided to lean on my cozy mystery knowledge and trust that the tables would eventually turn to the real causes of death. So there were some hard passages for me to read but I am happy I followed my brain and not my heart this time. Alicia Bessette has a very descriptive writing style. The best vacation our family ever had was our trip to Caswell Beach, North Carolina, and her words to me right back there. I could smell the ocean air, feel the ocean breezes and the sand and water between my toes. While we didn’t have a murder to solve in addition to our wonderful cottage on the ocean we visited several local shops and a bookstore that had a resident cat so this book brought back some wonderful memories that were nice to have. I wouldn’t call the characters in this book quirky but they are really interesting. They all seem to either have a secret or have dealt with or are still dealing with something from their past. Callie is in a tough place because finding another job in her field is going to be hard as the news business is changing. But she uses her skills to ferret out a killer when the police aren’t of the same mindset for most of the book. She also used the bookstore to her advantage and her and her mother’s love of Mary Higgins Clark – “Good old MHC never lets you down.” While My Pretty One Sleeps was Callie’s mother’s favorite book and Callie reads it again as she tries to solve the mysteries in this story. Callie meets Toby Dodge while saving an Instagram star and their lives quickly mesh together as he teaches her some self-defense options. He already knows her well enough that he knows she is not going to stop trying to find the killer. He is really easy on the eyes and super friendly too so Callie doesn’t mind spending time with him one bit. We also meet several other residents of Cattail Island and all are cleverly created and serve a purpose in the story. I enjoyed that the supporting characters had so much depth for the first book in the series. Ms. Bessette has written a complex mystery with a lot of moving parts. She serves up some delightful twists and drops clues tactfully throughout the story. Callie is an active amateur sleuth who refuses to give up. I especially liked that completing Eva’s treasure hunt was part of her process. Even when she hit a bump in the road to solving it she was always thinking of how to get the answers she needed. I admire her perseverance. All of her digging led up to a very gritty reveal that had me almost off the edge of my seat. The story does not end though with catching the killer. There is some unfinished business that needs to take place. I found the ending to be extremely heartwarming and completely satisfying. Smile Beach Murder was a Perfect Escape and would be a perfect beach read for everyone this summer. A captivating mystery filled with intriguing characters set on a wonderful island in the Outer Banks. This series is off to a great start!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette has Callie Padget returning to Cattail Island, North Carolina. Callie has been laid off from her reporting job and is finding it a challenge to locate another newspaper job. She moves back into her old room in the loft at her uncle’s home and gets a position at MotherVine bookstore. Almost to the day of her mother’s death at the lighthouse, another body is found there. It is Eva Meeks who co-owns Meeks Hardware with her sister. Callie is one of the last peop Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette has Callie Padget returning to Cattail Island, North Carolina. Callie has been laid off from her reporting job and is finding it a challenge to locate another newspaper job. She moves back into her old room in the loft at her uncle’s home and gets a position at MotherVine bookstore. Almost to the day of her mother’s death at the lighthouse, another body is found there. It is Eva Meeks who co-owns Meeks Hardware with her sister. Callie is one of the last people to speak with Eva. The police are ruling Eva’s death a suicide, but Callie does not believe it. Eva had been in the store the day before her death searching for information on her latest treasure hunt. Callie wonders if the search for the treasure led her to the lighthouse. With the police unwilling to explore another solution, Callie begins digging for the truth. Smile Beach Murder takes readers to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I enjoyed the beautiful descriptions of the island. Alicia Bessette is a detail-oriented writer who brought scenes alive with her word imagery. All the things that make up a cozy mystery are included: a woman needing a fresh start, small beach town, cozy bookstore, bookstore cat, a mystery, curiosity (as a reporter she wants the truth to be revealed), and an eligible (and handsome) man. I love that the bookstore cat has his own Instagram account. “He” takes pictures around town. There is plenty of action as Callie works at the bookstore, investigates the mystery, and digs into the treasure hunt. I thought it was delightful that a treasure hunt was included (who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt). I enjoyed the reveal of the treasure hunt solution. The whodunit kept Callie busy. She actively searched for clues and asked questions. She came up with a couple of viable suspects. There is a dramatic reveal filled with tension. It depends on how many cozy mysteries you have read on when you will solve it. The clues are there is you pay close attention to the details. There are references to mystery novels throughout the story which I loved (one of my favorites was mentioned). I appreciate that the author took the time to set the stage with the setting and the main characters. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next An Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery. Smile Beach Murder is an enticing treasure with beautiful beaches, a low-ceilinged loft, a comfortable bookstore, a treacherous treasure hunt, a looming lighthouse, mystery novel mentions, an Instagram celebrity cat, and a probing reporter.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Janet | purrfectpages

    Callie never thought she’d return to her hometown of Cattail Island, leaving behind many bad memories years ago. But when she gets laid off from her job as a reporter, she finds herself needing a place to recharge and regroup. Unsurprisingly, Callie finds the island hasn’t changed all that much. Most of the quirky residents she grew up still reside there, and many of the places she used to visit remain as well. In fact, this is how Callie ends reluctantly ends up taking a temporary job at the is Callie never thought she’d return to her hometown of Cattail Island, leaving behind many bad memories years ago. But when she gets laid off from her job as a reporter, she finds herself needing a place to recharge and regroup. Unsurprisingly, Callie finds the island hasn’t changed all that much. Most of the quirky residents she grew up still reside there, and many of the places she used to visit remain as well. In fact, this is how Callie ends reluctantly ends up taking a temporary job at the island’s beloved bookstore, the same place her mom considered a safe haven before tragically passing away years before. The fact that Callie is returning home on the eve of her mother’s controversial death isn’t lost on anyone. Years ago, her mom took her own life after tumbling (or was it jumping?) from the top of town’s landmark lighthouse. Now years later, tragedy hits the town- and the lighthouse- again. The town chalks it up to a curse, but Callie is convinced there’s more to the story. But what, or who, is responsible for the eerily timed deaths, and can she find out before more tragedy strikes? Smile Beach Murder is a cozy mystery for fans of Murder, She Wrote and Mary Higgins Clark, the author herself highly regarded in the story. The Nancy Drew fan in me loved seeing a strong female take on the task of solving the mystery. The colorful townspeople rounded out the whodunnit perfectly. I also loved the town bookstore, complete with a bookstore cat (my dream!). I learned that high place phenomenon is actually a thing, and if you don’t know what it is, look it up! It’s quite fascinating. It doesn’t take a detective to see author, @aliciabessette (wife to another talented author, Matthew Quick), is sure to make her mark in the world of mystery with this release, case closed.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    3.5 stars Interesting premise and lots of potential, but I couldn't quite connect with the main character. 3.5 stars Interesting premise and lots of potential, but I couldn't quite connect with the main character.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    Callie isn't happy about having to move back to her uncle's house on Cattail Island. It was home long ago, but once her mother died, she couldn't wait to get far away. Things didn't work out too well for her career-wise, and now she views this as a temporary living arrangement until she can find another job away from here. Luckily though, she does get a job for the summer so on top of everything else, at least she won't be unemployed and broke. After applying and being rejected at almost every bu Callie isn't happy about having to move back to her uncle's house on Cattail Island. It was home long ago, but once her mother died, she couldn't wait to get far away. Things didn't work out too well for her career-wise, and now she views this as a temporary living arrangement until she can find another job away from here. Luckily though, she does get a job for the summer so on top of everything else, at least she won't be unemployed and broke. After applying and being rejected at almost every business on the island, she gets hired at MotherVine bookstore. It was a place her mother loved, so it is full of both good and painful memories. Just when things are looking up, tragedy strikes. Eva Meeks is found dead outside the Cattail Lighthouse. This place haunts Callie since it was where she lost her mother. Callie doesn't agree with the official ruling, and she promises Eva's daughter that she will uncover the truth. A stroll down memory lane and a current mystery where the body count continues to rise means that Callie will have to figure out the identity of the killer before she is the next victim. I have to say I did correctly guess the killer( yeah me)but not for the right reasons. Here I go being cryptic because of spoilers, but I was absolutely 100% positive that something from the past was related to what was happening now. More than just the old scavenger hunt that Eva discovered and more than just the seemingly tragic lighthouse location. I don't know if that was the author's intent, but either she reeled me in or I was just all alone on my misguided hunt for the truth! I enjoyed the supporting characters, at least the one's that I didn't give major side-eye to because I thought they might have been the killer. I felt like I was on a hard to get to the island during tourist season, and who can resist a bookstore Instagram famous cat named Tin Man. I am not sure if this was standalone or if Callie has more amateur sleuthing in her future, but I for one would be alright with the second scenario.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Powell

    Callie left her hometown and all the bad memories behind several years ago. That is, until she gets laid off from her job as a reporter and she needs somewhere to collect her thoughts and decide what she wants her future to look like. Most of the quirky residents that she knew growing up still live there, and they are all aware of the fact that Callie is coming home on the anniversary of her mother’s death from a fall from the lighthouse, which most say was an accident, but Callie still question Callie left her hometown and all the bad memories behind several years ago. That is, until she gets laid off from her job as a reporter and she needs somewhere to collect her thoughts and decide what she wants her future to look like. Most of the quirky residents that she knew growing up still live there, and they are all aware of the fact that Callie is coming home on the anniversary of her mother’s death from a fall from the lighthouse, which most say was an accident, but Callie still questions whether or not there’s more to it. So when another tragedy strikes the town and the lighthouse again, Callie is convinced more than ever that there’s more to the story. Especially when they find the first clue in a series that may lead her to her answers. This was a cute cozy mystery perfect for fans of murder she wrote or Nancy drew. The people in the town really added so many layers to the story especially the cat that lives in the bookstore. Thanks to Berkley Books and NetGalley for this eArc in exchange for my review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Callie’s return to Cattail Island was not by choice but I was happy to see the island and the islanders through her eyes. It is an idyllic place that I certainly appreciated, even if she didn’t. Getting to know the islanders was a real treat and the mystery was intriguing. I fell in love with Tin Man and the thought of his Instagram. The story itself kept my interest at the beginning and then it waned as the story went on. When she starts to figure out the mystery, it does pick up again so I enj Callie’s return to Cattail Island was not by choice but I was happy to see the island and the islanders through her eyes. It is an idyllic place that I certainly appreciated, even if she didn’t. Getting to know the islanders was a real treat and the mystery was intriguing. I fell in love with Tin Man and the thought of his Instagram. The story itself kept my interest at the beginning and then it waned as the story went on. When she starts to figure out the mystery, it does pick up again so I enjoyed it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    Overall, despite being a bit darker in nature, this has the right level of twists and location based mystery. Spoiler-free Review: https://amberinoface.wordpress.com/20... I received an ecopy of this book through Netgalley; however, my opinions are my own Overall, despite being a bit darker in nature, this has the right level of twists and location based mystery. Spoiler-free Review: https://amberinoface.wordpress.com/20... I received an ecopy of this book through Netgalley; however, my opinions are my own

  13. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    I received a gifted galley of SMILE BEACH MURDER by Alicia Bessette for an honest review. Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review! SMILE BEACH MURDER follows Callie as she returns to Cattail Island after being laid off from her reporting job. It is a place with strong memories tied to it, especially as she gets a job working part time at the local bookstore where she once spent time with her mother and where she spent a lot of time after her moth I received a gifted galley of SMILE BEACH MURDER by Alicia Bessette for an honest review. Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review! SMILE BEACH MURDER follows Callie as she returns to Cattail Island after being laid off from her reporting job. It is a place with strong memories tied to it, especially as she gets a job working part time at the local bookstore where she once spent time with her mother and where she spent a lot of time after her mother’s death. The island is also the place where her mother died, falling from the top of the lighthouse. Not long after Callie’s return, another young woman is found dead at the foot of the lighthouse, not far from where Callie’s own mother was found. It is being called a suicide by the local police, but Callie is sure that it was not. Eva went to the lighthouse chasing a clue to a treasure hunt, something that may be behind her death. With no one else believing her suspicions, Callie must brush off her journalistic instincts and hunt down answers herself. This was a fun cozy small town mystery and I enjoyed it! I though the author did a good job of laying out the mystery and Callie’s motives for wanting the answers she seeks. The Island is full of interesting characters as I’ve come to expect in this type of mystery and they provided some good entertainment and information tied to the mystery along the way! The grief and flashbacks of Callie’s memories of her mother were also well done. This is definitely a good vacation read to add to your TBR!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie (read_with_steph)

    Out-of-work reporter Callie returns to the Outer Banks where she grew up in search of temporary work and a fresh start. But when a family friend plummets to her death from the island's lighthouse--just as Callie's mother did decades ago--Callie isn't so sure to believe it was a suicide. Determined to figure out what really happened, Callie begins investigating... The cover for this series starter really drew me to the book, though I must say, even weeks later, I'm still puzzling over the title wh Out-of-work reporter Callie returns to the Outer Banks where she grew up in search of temporary work and a fresh start. But when a family friend plummets to her death from the island's lighthouse--just as Callie's mother did decades ago--Callie isn't so sure to believe it was a suicide. Determined to figure out what really happened, Callie begins investigating... The cover for this series starter really drew me to the book, though I must say, even weeks later, I'm still puzzling over the title which is embarrassingly literal (the book is about a murder on Smile Beach). Used to the punny titles of other cozy mysteries, I kept wondering if there was a pun I was not getting, but I could only think up replacing "Beach" with another b-word, and that didn't quite make sense. I only wondered if perhaps this book was trying NOT to be branded as a cozy for some reason? But it really is a cozy mystery--SWF, starting over in a small town, working at a small town shop, romantic interest but clean, and nothing too scary. None of this affects my star rating/review, because it's not the author's fault but I can't stop thinking about the truly weird branding of this one. When it comes to the meat of it, it's a well-done cozy mystery with all the necessary elements. While I can't say Callie is the most unique or interesting heroine, I think the mystery itself was extremely well thought out, shown, and ultimately solved. The author was also not afraid to involve or injure characters we thought may be above reproach--perhaps because it's a series starter, and we're less attached--but it certainly makes things exciting. Thanks to Berkley and Let's Talk Books Promo for my eARC! All thoughts and opinions are my own. 5 stars - 8/10

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karie

    Oh man, Smile Beach Murder was the cozy mystery read I needed! Alicia Bessette masterfully evoked the feel of Cattail Island and the locals living there, and I almost felt like I was part of the crew. From Mother Vine Books to the lighthouse, everything was layered together in the rich narrative that felt more like Nancy Drew for grownups than anything else. The mystery was satisfying, and Callie was a great lead. Definitely recommend.

  16. 5 out of 5

    G

    Wanted to get back into reading recently, and found this book at the local book store. Cover was cool and the title was simple, giving me an idea of what I was gonna get into. Short chapters, vivid descriptions, and the author really makes you feel like you’re involved.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Doreen

    5/2/2022 Ngl, I'm obsessed with the aesthetics of that cover! Full review tk at CriminalElement.com. 5/2/2022 Ngl, I'm obsessed with the aesthetics of that cover! Full review tk at CriminalElement.com.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelli Martin

    I thought this book was so cute! The genre for this book is ‘cozy mystery’s but it’s not one of those sickly sweet cozies. Smile Beach Murder leans more towards mystery than cozy. Which is perfectly fine with me! This book did follow the ‘clean’ or ‘wholesomeness’ of cozies. I really like when I can enjoy a good mystery that I don’t feel like I can’t read in public due to sex scenes. This book was great without all of that extraness. This book did pull at my heartstrings several times. I loved h I thought this book was so cute! The genre for this book is ‘cozy mystery’s but it’s not one of those sickly sweet cozies. Smile Beach Murder leans more towards mystery than cozy. Which is perfectly fine with me! This book did follow the ‘clean’ or ‘wholesomeness’ of cozies. I really like when I can enjoy a good mystery that I don’t feel like I can’t read in public due to sex scenes. This book was great without all of that extraness. This book did pull at my heartstrings several times. I loved how the author wove everything together so intricately. In the end, everything made sense. The Outer Banks are such a beautiful area. I enjoyed reading about it and feeling like I was back in that area. Also - I just loved Callie! She was so tenacious. Hoping to see big things for her in the future.

  19. 5 out of 5

    It'sBrynanas

    I didn’t like the start of this book, the pacing felt weird. But as we dig into the mystery things pick up and I ended up enjoying the story and the characters more.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Inspector Penny

    I'm giving up on Cozies. They all seem to have the same cliches: a main character with no personality who pushes her way into an investigation and does stupid things, (who also doesn't act her age & who has just moved back into the quaint town), a cutesy bookstore that always has more customers than any other bookstore ever, a pet, a hot guy, some political/business tear-down-something-to-make-condos side plot, an annoying mayor or other official....I just cannot read any more of these. I only h I'm giving up on Cozies. They all seem to have the same cliches: a main character with no personality who pushes her way into an investigation and does stupid things, (who also doesn't act her age & who has just moved back into the quaint town), a cutesy bookstore that always has more customers than any other bookstore ever, a pet, a hot guy, some political/business tear-down-something-to-make-condos side plot, an annoying mayor or other official....I just cannot read any more of these. I only had about 20 pages to go and I wasn't interested enough to finish it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. First book in a series taking place in outer banks. Eva is believed to have committed suicide but was actually murdered. Former reporter Callie figures out that local paper owner did it for paper sales. Meh.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Smile Beach Murder takes place in the Outer Banks, NC. My family has been there a couple of times and I loved it. We even went to the top of a lighthouse- there's a lighthouse in this book and I wondered if it might be based on the one we climbed. This is the first in a new cozy mystery series- the Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery series. This is a cozy mystery- there's a bookstore, a cute cat, a mystery to be solved, some entertaining side characters, and a lack of gore. It was a more serious tone Smile Beach Murder takes place in the Outer Banks, NC. My family has been there a couple of times and I loved it. We even went to the top of a lighthouse- there's a lighthouse in this book and I wondered if it might be based on the one we climbed. This is the first in a new cozy mystery series- the Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery series. This is a cozy mystery- there's a bookstore, a cute cat, a mystery to be solved, some entertaining side characters, and a lack of gore. It was a more serious tone than other cozies I've read, and that worked for this story line. It will be interesting to see if future stories are lighter or if they'll maintain this tone. Callie is a laid off journalist who's moved home to her uncle's and gets a job in a family friend's bookstore. Her investigative skills are handy when there is a mysterious death. Callie also has some past history to deal with. It was great getting to know Callie and the community. I will read the next one. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shay | Books Are Magic Too

    This book was an absolute delight! I don’t know about you but I’m SO ready for summer, and have clearly been reading titles for give me those summer vibes. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of Smile Beach Murder, the first in a new series and I devoured it! I’ll be sharing my full review as part of the book’s tour with Berkley on 5/9 but pick this one up if you love the following: ✔️ adorable small beach town setting ✔️ a swoonworthy bookstore ✔️ an Instagram famous cat ✔️ plenty of referen This book was an absolute delight! I don’t know about you but I’m SO ready for summer, and have clearly been reading titles for give me those summer vibes. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of Smile Beach Murder, the first in a new series and I devoured it! I’ll be sharing my full review as part of the book’s tour with Berkley on 5/9 but pick this one up if you love the following: ✔️ adorable small beach town setting ✔️ a swoonworthy bookstore ✔️ an Instagram famous cat ✔️ plenty of references to other mystery novels you’ll recognize and love ✔️ the perfect mix of twists and turns Thank you Berkley + Netgalley for the chance to read and review this title in exchange for my honest review. ✔️ characters who will get introduced and get you excited for future titles in the series, but add just enough to the story

  24. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I don’t think I can go higher than one star with this because it contains the greatest of all amateur investigator sins- she figures out who did it and then runs off at top speed to confront him in an isolated location. In this case she runs so fast her shoes literally fall off. Why not pause and call someone first? Or power-walk past a police station, since the police are falling all over themselves to share confidential info with her for the rest of the book?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lena H.

    Beaches? Bookstores? Best buds? Smile Beach Murder has them all! Callie Padget has lost her job, her apartment, her furniture, everything that had defined who she became after losing her mother. Back on Cattail Island she finds her uncle, Hudson, and his Gang still playing poker and welcoming Callie home. Antoinette, one of the Gang and a good friend of Callie's mother, gives her a job working in the MotherVine bookstore. Callie's first day on the job brings in Eva Meeks, the older sister of one Beaches? Bookstores? Best buds? Smile Beach Murder has them all! Callie Padget has lost her job, her apartment, her furniture, everything that had defined who she became after losing her mother. Back on Cattail Island she finds her uncle, Hudson, and his Gang still playing poker and welcoming Callie home. Antoinette, one of the Gang and a good friend of Callie's mother, gives her a job working in the MotherVine bookstore. Callie's first day on the job brings in Eva Meeks, the older sister of one of Callie's school friends. Eva is on the hunt for a treasure and calls Callie late one night to invite her to join in her quest. The following morning, Eva is found dead at the foot of the lighthouse. The police are convinced Eva committed suicide but Callie is convinced there's something more sinister behind her friends' demise. This book checks off all the boxes for a cozy mystery. Young woman, single, lost her job, staring over again, works in a bookstore, cat, intriguing single man who's new in town. Check, check, check. Some people might find that disappointing but I love all the comfortable cozy tropes. I also love books set on the beach so I was really excited to read this book. Callie sets off to find out what happened to Eva, who has left a 12-year-old daughter orphaned, just like Callie's mother did when she passed away 26 years earlier. In trying to figure out what happened to Eva, Callie digs up information on several people in town including the owner of a local furniture manufacturer, a hardware store employee, and the lighthouse keeper, while also continuing the treasure hunt that lead Eva to her death. There was no lull in the action in this book. Callie is busy working, getting to know Cattail Island again, and hunting down clues to get answers for Eva's daughter, Summer. All the characters Callie meets have their own secrets, which kept me guessing until the very end. I was never able to wager a guess as to who the guilty party may have been. Anyone who enjoys cozy beach reads should check out this new series. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Returning home to the Outer Banks, Callie Padget insists it is only a temporary stay, but when a friend dies in a fall from the same lighthouse Callie’s mother fell, she decides to stay and solve the crime. The Outer Banks setting and the characters are excellent in this first in a new series looking forward to others.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Dressler

    Cozy [not so cozy] Mystery done right! I love that Smile Beach Murder is set in the OBX, I love that it includes sleuthing, journalism and books! So many references to MHC- Mary Higgins Clark for those of you who didn’t know (like me!), so much so that I now feel the need to read one of her novels. Callie is laid off from her journalist career in Charlotte so she heads home to Cattail Island, grabs a quick temporary job at a local bookshop and begins researching a murder after there are too many “ Cozy [not so cozy] Mystery done right! I love that Smile Beach Murder is set in the OBX, I love that it includes sleuthing, journalism and books! So many references to MHC- Mary Higgins Clark for those of you who didn’t know (like me!), so much so that I now feel the need to read one of her novels. Callie is laid off from her journalist career in Charlotte so she heads home to Cattail Island, grabs a quick temporary job at a local bookshop and begins researching a murder after there are too many “coincidences” to be a suicide. I haven’t read a cozy mystery in a while and this was right up my alley! Such a fun little novel! I kept getting more and more flashbacks to my childhood when I was on a devour all the Nancy Drew novels kick. If you enjoy buddy reads this is a great one to discuss, and of course if you like cozy mysteries and the OBX, this is one to grab!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Lanigan

    I have a cozy mystery for you. This is book one in a new series and it’s a great one to cozy up to. . Callie is let go as a reporter and returns to her hometown of Cattail Island and the comfort of her job at the bookstore. Murder, lighthouse and theories galore it’s a classic whodunnit. . This is book one in a new series and I’m excited to continue it. . Thank you @berrittalksbooks @thephdivabooks @dg_reads @berkleypub for an advanced copy!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    Callie Padget is back home. For now. After losing her news reporter job in Charlotte and then her apartment, she packed up and moved back in with her uncle on Cattail Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. But she doesn’t plan on staying. She’s in front of the MotherVine Bookshop when she sees a car coming down the street a little too fast. The cat in the middle of the street feasting on an abandoned fish taco doesn’t notice, but Callie does, and swoops down to pick up the cat just in time Callie Padget is back home. For now. After losing her news reporter job in Charlotte and then her apartment, she packed up and moved back in with her uncle on Cattail Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. But she doesn’t plan on staying. She’s in front of the MotherVine Bookshop when she sees a car coming down the street a little too fast. The cat in the middle of the street feasting on an abandoned fish taco doesn’t notice, but Callie does, and swoops down to pick up the cat just in time. The cat belongs to Antoinette, the bookshop owner and Callie’s mother’s former best friend and business partner. Callie’s mother had worked there before she died, and the shelf of books by Mary Higgins Clark still exists, just where it used to be. MHC had been Callie’s mother’s favorite author, and her books were the ones Callie turned to when she was 12 and grieving. Antoinette offers Callie a job at the bookshop for the summer, and Callie decides to take it. She hadn’t been able to find any other jobs, and the bookshop suits her fine. Books are old friends, and making deliveries around town will give her a chance to reconnect with those she knew growing up. And then Eva Meeks comes rushing in, looking for books about local history, and Callie finds herself drawn back into old friendships. In school. Callie had been friends with Eva’s younger sister Georgia, since they were in the same class, but she certainly knew Eva too. And now, Eva was on the hunt for treasure. There had always been rumors that Blackbeard had buried treasure nearby, and Eva was excited about treasure hunting. Later that night, Eva had called Callie, asking if she wanted to come to the lighthouse with her. Eva was on to something. But Calle stayed in. It wasn’t until the next morning that she heard the news. She was back in the bookstore, about to learn how to use the cantankerous cash register, when she overheard a customer talking about a woman who had jumped from the lighthouse overnight. This, almost 26 years to the day when another woman had jumped. Callie froze as she heard this. She immediately left for the lighthouse, where it was confirmed that it had been Eva who had been found at the base of the lighthouse, not too far from the white cross that had symbolized the other woman who had died there, Teri Padgett. Callie’s mom. The police immediately decide that Eva’s death had been a suicide, but Callie has doubts. Eva had seemed full of life and excitement, especially yesterday when Callie had seen her in the bookstore and when she had called from the lighthouse. What could have happened at the top of the lighthouse to change her mind? Or was it someone else who had made that decision for her? Callie isn’t a reporter anymore, but she still has that curiosity. She wants to find out what happened to her friend and to get answers for Eva’s 12-year-old daughter Summer. And then, when she is attacked coming home one night, a note left for her saying, “Back Off,” and a figure in black charging at her with the same message, she knows that she is right in believing that Eva didn’t commit suicide. But that also means she is chasing a killer who knows exactly who she is while she’s still trying to figure out who they are. Smile Beach Murder is the first in a new mystery series, Outer Banks Bookshop Mysteries, from Alicia Bessette, herself a reporter turned North Carolina coastal resident. This series brings to life a strong main character, several warm and funny supporting characters, and an intriguing mystery. But I think the best part of this book is the setting. Cattail Island, with its beaches and small town flavor, with the Cattaillers and the Dingbatters, and the grapes. The mother vine of MotherVine Bookshop is an actual grapevine which creates a canopy over the back porch, where customers can sit and read and try the grapes. I wasn’t entirely sure what I would find in the pages of Smile Beach Murder. There was something about the title of the cover that made me feel a little off balance. But I opened it up and started reading, and almost immediately I was completely charmed by Callie and by Cattail Island. This book is funny and filled with the kind of quirky characters I would hope to find in a small town. I loved the treasure hunt story line and the Cattillion to fundraise for the dilapidated pier. I really enjoyed my time on Cattail Island, and I look forward to taking another trip and solving more mysteries. Egalleys for Smile Beach Murder were provided by Berkley through NetGalley, with many thanks.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Smitten

    3.5 Stars Callie Padgett returns home to Cattail Island after being laid off from her job as a newspaper reporter and gets a job working at the local bookstore. Callie ends up investigating the death of an old acquaintance, Eva Meeks, who fell from the top of Cattail Lighthouse. The local police department thinks her death was a suicide, and although she hasn’t seen the woman in years, Callie is sure Eva wouldn’t have taken her own life. Eva had everything to live for, including her twelve-year-o 3.5 Stars Callie Padgett returns home to Cattail Island after being laid off from her job as a newspaper reporter and gets a job working at the local bookstore. Callie ends up investigating the death of an old acquaintance, Eva Meeks, who fell from the top of Cattail Lighthouse. The local police department thinks her death was a suicide, and although she hasn’t seen the woman in years, Callie is sure Eva wouldn’t have taken her own life. Eva had everything to live for, including her twelve-year-old daughter, her community causes, and her obsession to locate a pirate’s treasure. Callie relates to Eva’s situation because of a tragedy in her own past and is determined to find out the truth about the woman’s death. Smile Beach Murder is the first in the new Outer Banks Bookstore Mystery series. I like the premise of a bookstore on a North Carolina island . However, Callie, the main character, doesn’t want to be on the island, much less working in the bookstore. The fun of having a cozy mystery set in a bookstore is to share the love of reading with characters in the book. Callie’s attitude of not really wanting to be there didn’t make her a pleasant character to spend time with and no joy of reading came through. The positive part about the bookstore setting is there are several shoutouts to some great books and authors, like Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark. Although Callie’s heart is in the right place looking into what really happened to Eva, I didn’t connect with her character. Callie has good instincts, but when asking questions about Eva’s death, Callie often does it in a pushy way that sets people on edge and it didn’t endear her to me, either. There is a dramatic confrontation with the killer at the end and I was surprised by who it was, but the motive was a bit of a letdown to me as was the final conclusion of the book. On the positive side, I like that the book was broken into many short chapters which helps move the story along at a steady pace. Hopefully, Callie will feel more comfortable being back in her hometown and open up more to potential friends in future books. I also liked the victim’s daughter, Summer, and the talks Callie had with her. I think with the beach setting and the bookstore whose cat has lots of personality, there is a lot of potential to this series. ~ Christine

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