Murder on the Beach: A Destination Murders Short Story Anthology

This is a perfect summer read – short stories are the perfect thing for waits in the car, on a line, at an airport or yes – on the beach before you drift into a sun infused nap.  They are even perfect for lunch breaks at the office.  Have lunch, read a whole story.  Stories are kind of like poetry in that they can’t waste words, are, as the description tells the reader, short, and really must pack a punch and a memory into a short space of time.

These were all fun reads, all set on different beaches from the east coast to Cabo San Lucas (a yummy destination to read about in Eleanor Cawood Jones’ Cabo San Loco).  In keeping with the summer theme these were all on the lighter side, some of the stories not even involving a murder.  One of the most successful stories, A Tale of Two Sisters by Barb Goffman, has no murder, just some petty theft.

Goffman’s story is set at the narrator’s sister’s wedding – as the sister tries to make sure the day goes smoothly for the bride, her borrowed from an aunt’s wedding tiara keeps going missing, and practical sister Robin hares off after a variety of nefarious cousins and uncles who are bent on retrieving the beautiful (and valuable) tiara for themselves.  Goffman really nails the feel of a wedding and the intrigue of family while keeping a light, humorous hand at the controls. Great way to spend your lunch hour.

Another successful and beach drenched read is Shari Randall’s Footprints in the Sand, which finds former ballerina Allegra out for her morning swim and discovering not just giant footprints in the sand but a beautiful (and huge) diamond ring.  As she and her Aunt Gully set out to investigate, the tricky and clever story takes Allegra from the beach to the jewelers to the front of a police cruiser to her dad’s beach house.  Randall really has the feel of a small New England town, and the proceedings – footprint of a sea monster included – are suitably mysterious.

All of the writers tell a good story, and the beaches they describe, whether homey or fancy, are totally inviting, but perhaps none as inviting as Cabo San Lucas in Cawood Jones’ Cabo San Loco, where a group of friends who met on jury duty are treated to a vacation – complete with bucket list – by their ultra-wealthy friend, Bean.  A series of small but ominous mishaps keep the vacation from being picture perfect, but the story is a good one, and you’ll probably end up as fond of Bean as I was – and you’ll probably wish she was your friend, too.

All of these stories, no matter where they are set, dead body or no, provide two wonderful things: a great location, and an array of characters who would be great friends or who may remind you (and cause you to appreciate more) friends and family you already have.  That’s certainly the gift to readers on the part of the cozy mystery.  Do yourself a favor and spend your lunch break at the beach.

This is a kindle only read, last I checked, available for $.99.