Book Review – Murder at Pirate’s Cove: An M/M Cozy Mystery (Secrets and Scrabble Book 1) by Josh Lanyon.

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Secrets and Scrabble 1 for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley. Although they had to approve my request to review, the decision to read this book is my choice and any reviews given are obligation free.

Another book I read this week, rather than last year. It’s amazing how much reading you can get done during school holidays when your house is in self-isolation!

Okay, I have mixed feelings about ‘Murder at Pirate’s Cove’. I wanted to read it as I’d heard nothing but good things about the author, so when I saw a book by her on Netgalley, I was curious to read it. It’s a cosy set in small town America – frequent readers of my review know this is a favourite genre of mine. Plus there is a hint of romance, without it getting in the way of the whodunit. Finally, I’m not narrow minded, and so don’t mind a cosy crime/ romance where the protagonist and their love interest are of the same gender.

And, happily, ‘Murder at Pirate’s Cove’ ticked all those boxes. However, it still almost became the next victim of my “did not finish” pile. And, being honest here, the only reason I kept reading is that my Netgalley stats are pretty terrible right now, due to my near two year absence, and I didn’t want to ruin them further with another DNF.

And BOY am I glad I kept reading! As I actually ended up enjoying it enough to want to see what happens in the next book in the series. So I apologise for doubting it!

The two main things that put me off were the overall tone of the book, and the poor editing. And I really shouldn’t pick on the poor editing as I received an ARC, not a final print, and so clangers and editorial mishaps can happen. I just really do hope the copy editor has gone over it again with a fine tooth comb before it was published, as there is some really sloppy editing in places, sorry.

As for the tone… It just wasn’t a style I liked. It was, to me, more a YA/ NA style of prose than I was expecting in an “adult” book. Not that is was “adult” in a rating sense, more that I felt it was a more adult setting than the late teen/ young adult tone I felt came across. So, if you look at the two reasons I wasn’t always thrilled with the book, you can clearly see that both faults lay with me, the reviewer, and not the book or author at all!

All the same, I wanted to give ‘Murder at Pirate’s Cove’ a 4 out of 5 rating, but just couldn’t bring myself to doing so, based on what I read. Perhaps the final print is sharper, less immature in tone, much better edited, and so everything I’m saying it obsolete… and gosh I hope so, as I found it – besides all that – an enjoyable read.

Although the protagonist did come across as a little whiny at times, it was well within character and somehow made him more endearing to me as the reader. The setting was interesting  – I’ve not read a cosy in an old pirate village before – the characters were, for the most, endearing, and it was all in all an enjoyable day or so of reading. Sadly, I also figured out the whodunit fairly early on, and didn’t feel there were enough red herrings to keep me second guessing myself. I feel this added to the YA/NA feel I got off the book.

So, you can see, I had a bit of love hate relationship with ‘Murder at Pirate’s Cove’, but overall I enjoyed it and am giving it a thumb’s up.

From the book nerd side, you’ve basically heard the worst… it needed editing. But, I feel I need to emphasise again that I received an Advanced Reader Copy, and they are usually unfinished proofs, and so bad editing happens. No biggie. The formatting and layout, however, were more finished and I feel this saved this book another star. 😉

Buy on Amazon (affiliated link).

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. And, yes I would also mention the minor issues I had with this book, but I would still recommend it as an entertaining first book in a potentially good cosy crime series.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I might. I mean, I DO want to read the next book in the series, when it comes out. But I’m undecided if I’d only want to read it if I got it as a free ARC or found it online as a library book, rather than buy it. Not that it’s priced unreasonably on Amazon Australia, it’s a VERY reasonable price.

I enjoyed the book, but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected I would. Perhaps I was a little blinkered by all the praise I’d heard about Ms Lanyon, and for some reason expected more? Who knows? But any faults I found in it really were down to the reader, not the book or author.

In summary: An interesting first book in a seaside cosy crime series that has potential to be amazing.

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