I was excited to learn than author Hannah Dennison has a new series coming out, and the first book, “Death at High Tide”, did not disappoint. The premise is simple: two sisters go to visit an island hotel that one of them may or may not have inherited. What ensues is much more complicated as the inheritance is questionable and the body count rises.
I loved the concept of setting this series on an isolated island that can only be accessed at certain times of day due to the tides. The whole isolation aspect gave the story a slight Gothic air, which I very much enjoy and seldom (if ever before) see in cozies. The descriptions, of both the landscape and the hotel itself, were just detailed enough to enable me to “see” everything, without bogging down the narrative at all.
I also enjoyed getting to know main characters Evie and Margot. Evie was likable and intelligent, with just the right touch of vulnerability in keeping with a new widow. Margot initially came across as pushy and entitled, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt, as I’ve read other books by Ms. Dennison and trusted her not to offer up an irredeemable major character. Sure enough, as I got to know Margot better and understood what her life had been like up to this point, I liked her more. I imagine we’ll see lots of character growth from her in future installments. One other note: I appreciated her traditional morality and strong views about the sanctity of marriage. It’s rare to find this in any genre these days, so kudos to the author!
The mystery itself was interesting, and was made even more so by the limited suspect pool provided by the island. Despite the relatively small number of people involved, there was plenty of room for doubt, suspicion, and clue-hunting. The author did a fabulous job of expanding on the old “closed-room mystery” sub-genre, and doing so in a unique and fascinating way. Early on, I suspected that the villain was up to something, but it didn’t cross my mind that this person could be the killer until near the end. I love a mystery that keeps me guessing, and this one did just that.
Honestly, I loved everything about this story, and can’t wait until the next book comes out.
Five out of five chunks of perfect sharp cheddar!