Murder at Sea Oats Beach by Karen C. Whalen Review

Murder at Sea Oats Beach by Karen C. Whalen is a delightful cozy mystery romp set in a quaint little North Carolina Outer Banks touristy beach town. At the end of the season, a newcomer from Chicago and a handful of colorful local characters become embroiled in a murder investigation. Read the full review.

Murder at Sea Oats Beach Publisher's Synopsis

Breanna Hart is volunteering at the animal shelter and living her best life in a North Carolina beach town, but that changes when the police chief is found dead under mysterious circumstances inside the cage of her favorite dog. Everyone has the dog tagged as the murderer, even the handsome police officer in charge of the investigation, and the pooch is put on the euthanasia list. In spite of being new in town and dealing with both a social phobia and a secret, will Breanna be able to solve the crime and prove the dog’s innocence? Will she be able to find his forever home so she can embrace the salty seaside life and find a forever home for herself?

KCW Books, LLC (2024)

Genre(s) Mystery & Detective / Cozy / Amateur Sleuth / Animals

Karen C. Whalen | Pub Date 20 June 2024 | ISBN 9798989943517 (Digital) | 236 pages

Murder at Sea Oats Beach Review

Breanna Hart, a young woman from Chicago, moves to a small touristy city on the Outer Banks of North Carolina she had chosen on a whim after her relationship with a boyfriend ended. Unsure of what she wants to do with her life, she felt the need for a change of scenery and a fresh start. After renting a house near the beach, she volunteered at the local animal shelter because she had a vague idea about becoming a veterinarian and had experience in Chicago as a dog walker, a job she enjoyed and was good at.

In the seaside town of Sea Oats Beach, Breanna meets a colorful cast of characters: the vet tech supervisor at the animal shelter Claire Goldman; a handsome police officer who Breanna finds attractive Ty Whitaker; a beach Italian ice vendor and surfer dude Roscoe Blue; animal control officer Serenity Creede; and kindly bait shop owner Emma Truax.

Tensions rise when Claire arrives at the shelter to discover the local police chief dead inside the cage of a French bulldog mix named Samson that Breanna has developed a deep affection for. The dead chief has a head injury and what appears to be multiple dog bites on his body. Ty Whitaker takes over as interim chief and takes charge of the murder investigation. While the authorities aren’t certain whether the chief died from a blow to the head or from being mauled by the dog, because of the bites, Samson gets marked for destruction as a dangerous animal.

Convinced that Samson is innocent, Breanna decides the only way to save him when the police don’t seem to make any progress is to investigate the murder herself and identify the killer. When even Ty and some of her friends end up on her suspect list, friction quickly develops and then unexpected events conspire to make Breanna’s life miserable. She gets dismissed as an animal shelter volunteer, gets kicked out of the rental she has grown to love, and feels abandoned by many of her new friends. But Breanna, determined to save Samson, refuses to give up.

I don’t read and review many cozies because I gravitate more toward crime thrillers and hard-boiled detective mysteries. But when offered an advance copy of Murder at Sea Oats Beach. I found the book’s description intriguing and accepted it. Just because I don’t read a lot of cozy mysteries doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good one when I do, and this is a very well-written and entertaining book.

I really liked the main character, Breanna, who felt utterly realistic and likeable. And without exception, the remaining cast of characters are all well-developed and interesting. I found it more of a character-driven than plot-driven story, but that’s right up my street. I easily read it in one sitting because once I tucked into it, I didn’t want to put it down because I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. And of course, I was rooting for Breanna to save Sampson throughout. It turned out to be an entertaining mystery with good pacing and one where the author does an excellent job of concealing the villain until the very end.

Those who enjoy reading cozy mysteries with a touch of humor and romance will enjoy Murder at Sea Oats Beach. It makes for an excellent beach read and I highly recommend it to fans of the genre. Even if you’re like me and tend toward reading books on the darker, grittier end of the crime fiction scale, you may find this fun and entertaining novel makes for an enjoyable change of pace.

I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher for consideration of a review. This review represents my honest opinions.

Book rating: ★★★★★

Get a Copy of Murder at Sea Oats Beach

Murder at Sea Oats Beach will be available on June 20, 2024 in digital and paperback and is now available for preordering.

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