Murder at Sea Oats Beach by Karen C. Whalen

Murder at Sea Oats Beach by Karen C. Whalen
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

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?

Innocent until proven guilty should apply to dogs, too!

Breanna was a memorable and relatable protagonist. Her compassion for others instantly endeared me to her. It was interesting to see how her flaws influenced the decisions she made. Specifically, her impulsiveness was both a great way to push the plot forward and an impediment to her goals depending on the scene. I also appreciated how much effort was put into describing how social anxiety affected every facet of her life. This isn’t a mental illness I’ve seen mentioned very often in fiction, but Ms. Whalen struck a chord with how accurately and sympathetically she wrote about it.

I would have liked to see the mystery play a bigger role in how the storyline rolled out. There was so much attention paid to everything else that was going on that it took longer than I would have preferred for Breanna to start investigating what really happened to the police chief. Mysterious deaths aren’t common in small, quiet towns, so I was expecting the characters to react more strongly to such a turn of events.

Small town politics can be complex and frustrating, especially for newcomers. I enjoyed this deep dive into what it can be like to move to a new place and try to join an insular community. Breanna was completely unprepared for the nuances of it all, and I nodded along as she slowly realized just how much she had to learn about the friends and neighbors she was still beginning to get to know.

Murder at Sea Oats Beach was a playful summer read.

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