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Murder at Smuggler's Cove (Bella Kowalski Central Coast Mysteries Book 5) Kindle Edition
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"Depth of Lies" by E. C. Diskin
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If I were to describe this book in one phrase, I would say that even its secrets have secrets. And, then, even the secrets of the secrets seem to be hiding something.
I don’t read murder mystery novels; they’re generally just not my thing. In fact, I think that Murder at Smuggler’s Cove might be the first mystery novel I’ve ever completed. But I’ve got to admit it: I quite enjoyed this book!
I was really impressed by how many layers there were to this mystery—and by how slowly but seamlessly McGinty reveals the facts of the case to the reader. Perhaps most mystery novels are like this (I wouldn’t know)—but McGinty seemed to accomplish this with commendable expertise. She kept me constantly hanging on a thread, wanting to know what would be revealed next.
Another thing that I loved about this book was a certain character’s death that I’ll leave unnamed in order to avoid spoilers. Up until the death scene, I’d had more or less lukewarm feelings about the story. Yet this character’s shocking and sudden death, (which occurred about 1/4 of the way through the book) startled me so thoroughly that I became instantly sucked into the narrative.
McGinty also crafted some fantastic characters. She is skilled at depicting realistic, small-town individuals in a refreshingly palpable manner. While I found a great many of these characters interesting (i.e: George, Ed, Kimber, and Chip), two of the characters particularly jumped out at me. First, Rudy. I’m not sure what exactly it is, but something about Rudy just fascinated me from the very moment he was introduced. I enjoyed his complexity and thoroughly appreciated his conflicting motives. I love how he’s at first introduced as a cold-hearted villain, but then the reader comes to sympathize with him as he discovers more and more about this complex young man. Gah! Now I just really want McGinty to write an entire book about Rudy’s backstory. Pretty Please?
The other character that I adored was Romeo. Every time he showed up, a smile crept immediately onto my face—starting in the very first line of the novel. “Romeo, oh Romeo! Where the hell are you?” I couldn’t have asked for a better first line! Winston was pretty fantastic, too.
So, why not the fully five stars? There were some things I wasn’t crazy about.
First, I just didn’t relate to the protagonist. Maybe it has a bit to do with my age (being a 24-year-old male), but I just didn’t really find myself liking her. I also thought that she did some rather unrealistically rash things. For instance, she didn’t figure out what she was going to say to the administrators before going to the gun range or before exploring to Matthew’s dorm room—even though she’d had the whole car ride to figure this out. I just didn’t buy it.
I also didn’t like a brief POV switched that occurred twice toward the end of the book. While Bella narrates 48 of the 50 chapters, I very minor character named Jeb narrates two tiny chapters toward the end of the book. This felt very unnecessary to me, and I thought it cost the novel a great deal of continuity.
My last critique would be that several questions that the book leaves unanswered. SPOILER ALERT, SKIP OVER The NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON’T WANT TO GET SPOILED: For instance, why did Kimber have residue on her hands? Did her mom and stepdad frame her? Did she really go that gun range? Also, Bella seemed to think that there was something fishy going on concerning Kimber’s relationship with Chip. This never gets fleshed out.
SPOILERS FINISHED: All things considered, any misgivings I had didn’t really take away too greatly from my enjoyment of the book. If murder mysteries are your thing, then I would certainly recommend Murder at Smuggler’s Cove. It got even someone who didn’t like such books to enjoy it! So, that's pretty high praise!