It’s my stop on the blog tour today for Frances Evesham’s new book in the Exham-on-Sea Murder Mysteries series, Murder at the Gorge. Thanks so much to the publisher BoldWood Books and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my digital copy and spot on the tour. Not only do I have a review but also an extract from the e book for you to read……Enjoy!
Sand blew fiercely across Exham on Sea beach, slicing into any intrepid walker brave enough to venture out. Max Ramshore shivered, despite the padded jacket he’d zipped right up to his chin. The late-November wind from the sea always found the slightest chink in his clothing. He pulled his beanie lower over his forehead and made a mental note to buy a warmer scarf.
In summer, the eight miles of sand were a delight, the air tangy with ozone and fish and chips, and the beach dotted with cheerful holidaymakers eating ice cream, balancing small children on obliging, mild-tempered donkeys, and helping to build sandcastles.
In winter, the seafront belonged once more to the locals.
Max and Libby were determined, today, to reach the wooden Low Lighthouse. ‘I have mixed feelings when I walk here,’ Libby said. She pointed. ‘Look, that’s where I found the first body, lying against one of the wooden legs. It still sends shivers down my spine to remember poor Susie, slumped there like a sack of coal. At least her murder brought us together.’
‘Ramshore and Forest, detectives extraordinaire,’ Max teased.
‘Forest and Ramshore,’ Libby insisted, as she always did. No wonder they’d never agreed on a letterhead or logo for their private investigation business, even though it now took up almost as much time as producing her famous cakes and chocolates.
Libby stood by Max’s side, watching the two dogs cavorting in the sand. She had a smile on her lips. That smile was almost constant, these days.
Max forgot the cold seeping into his neck, and counted his blessings.
In almost two weeks, they’d be married.
Bear, Max’s huge, now rather elderly, Carpathian sheepdog decided an interesting morsel lay just beneath the sand under the lighthouse and dug furiously with giant paws, sand flying in every direction.
‘Watch out,’ Max shouted, too late, as sand hit him squarely in the left eye. Blinking furiously, trying not to rub the eye, he staggered upwind of Bear just as Shipley, his springer spaniel, dropped a stick twice his own size at Max’s feet.
Max’s curse was lost in Shipley’s excited barking and Libby’s shout of laughter. She retrieved the stick and threw it for Shipley to chase.
‘Come here,’ she told Max, ‘let me wash the sand out of your eye.’
His back to the wind, Max let her dribble bottled water from her rucksack into his eye and scrub around it with a tissue. She’d never make a nurse, but he decided the embrace that followed was worth the pain.
‘I shall enjoy married life if you look after me like that,’ he murmured. ‘You’re a useful person to have around.’
‘For the first aid or the cooking?’
‘Both. I’m expecting to sample every single one of the cake recipes in your “Baking at the Beach” books.’
Libby pulled back a little to look into his face, ducking as the breeze hurled more sand their way. ‘Baking at the Beach is a great title, but not a sensible activity in November,’ she admitted.
‘You can call book three, Baking in a nice warm kitchen.’
She laughed. How he loved that sound; a proper, deep chortle. His ex-wife had laughed with an affected noise designed, he was sure, to sound like tinkling bells.
He took Libby’s arm, whistling for the dogs. Shipley, who’d recently undergone strict retraining, returned at once, but Bear went on digging.
‘Do you think he’s getting deaf?’ Libby asked. ‘He used to come when I called, but lately he’s been ignoring me.’
Max studied Bear. ‘Hard to say. He’s not as young as he used to be and I’ve noticed he limps a little. Rheumatism, maybe.’
Libby was frowning. ‘I know twelve is old for a Carpathian, but I can’t imagine life without him. Maybe he needs a visit to the vet? To be checked out?’
‘I’ll take him, if you’ll please agree we can go home now and get out of this wind?’
The wind blew them back to Max’s Land Rover, parked near the jetty, in half the time it had taken them to reach the lighthouse.
Murder at the Gorge
A joke? A prank? Or something more sinister?
When the Exham-on-Sea residents are targeted by anonymous emails containing apparently harmless nursery rhymes, no one knows whether to laugh or shudder until an unexplained death touches the town.
Libby Forest, baker, chocolatier and Exham’s very own resident private investigator, alongside her partner Max Ramshore, set out to solve the puzzle before more people die. But when Max’s ex-wife arrives on the scene, ahead of Max and Libby’s long-awaited nuptials, things go from bad to worse.
With the town and their relationship under threat, Max and Libby need the help of the Exham History Society if they’re going to find the nursery rhyme killer in time.
Murder at the Gorge is the seventh in a series of Exham-on-Sea Murder Mysteries set at the small English seaside town full of quirky characters, sea air, and gossip.
If you love Agatha Christie-style mysteries, cosy crime, clever dogs and cake, then you’ll love these intriguing whodunnits.
Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3cnJN1F
When several people in the village receive e mails containing nursery rhymes, everyone just thinks it’s spam or a prank. But when Max & Libby find out the two cases they have started to look into also received them, it’s not looking so innocent after all!
But with the opening of a new cafe and their upcoming wedding to organise, things become strained and stress starts to build.
This was a lovely quick read with some delightful characters. Max and Libby are wonderfully described and I adored the inclusion of Max’s two dogs Shipley and Bear. This is a village mystery type read but with Max’s expertise in fraud and computers, and their contacts to the local police force, there is also a modern, more practical story running through it. I also liked the way the novel addresses Libby and Max’s relationship and the ups and downs of what is a second marriage in later years for both of them.
The many references to Libby’s chocolate making and baking, I must admit, had me reaching for the biscuit barrel a number of times whilst reading this book! Oh well, another few pounds added to the ever growing lockdown weight gain.
A lovely village crime story with a modern twist. I look forward to ‘munching’ my way through the other six now!
Frances Evesham is the author of the hugely successful Exham-on-Sea Murder Mysteries set in her home county of Somerset. In her spare time, she collects poison recipes and other ways of dispatching her unfortunate victims. She likes to cook with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other, her head full of murder―fictional only.
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