“The Seaview had weathered many storms, but she felt this one might be her trickiest yet.“
Rain pelting the windows, the toddler finally snoring beneath his cot blankets upstairs, candles flickering on the fireplace – surely nothing could make this moment any more cosy, I hear you say? Wrong. My sense of pure comfort more than doubled as I cracked the spine of ‘Curtain Call at the Seaview Hotel’, and checked in to my favourite beachside B&B. Although Glenda Young’s cosy crime series is definitely best enjoyed snuggled up by the fire on a rainy Autumn evening, I found both instalments so atmospheric that I really believe I could have read them in the Maldives (a girl can dream), and still felt the misty sea fret dampening my face and the aroma of fish and chips wafting up from the pages just as strongly.
I’m not usually much of a crime fiction lover, (it can be somewhat of a busman’s holiday for me) but since I always thoroughly enjoy Glenda’s historical sagas, I checked ‘Murder at the Seaview Hotel’ out of the library during a rare few days off work and was hooked straight away. I was so late to this party that I read the first instalment only weeks before ‘Curtain Call at the Seaview Hotel’ was released; which worked out great in the end as I got double the intrigue without the impatient waiting period between publications.
With characters as complex and mysterious as the plot, I’m not sure how I became so invested in their stories after only a couple of chapters; but that’s the caveat of Glenda Young’s gripping storytelling; just as I start to have the characters worked out, there’s another intriguing twist which has me suspicious of everyone and second guessing myself. So, my decision to try this series in an effort to fill some spare time on days off quickly spiralled into “surely it will be resolved in the next chapter, just a few more pages before bed” and the inevitable cycle of frustration and the unrelenting need to find out what happens next; more commonly known as ‘the binge read’.
As I’ve said, crime novels can be a bit of a busman’s holiday for me, but I’m almost embarrassed to admit that, in neither ‘Murder’ or ‘Curtain Call at the Seaview Hotel’ was I able to correctly guess the murderer. In fact, on both occasions I was completely flabbergasted as I’d formulated totally different theories as to where the plot was going to progress; which again is a testament to Glenda’s talent for creating plots which are even richer than Jean’s home made chocolate cakes. Being so well established in the saga genre, it was no doubt a nerve-racking move for Glenda Young to branch out into cosy crime but I’m delighted that she did. Both instalments were equally as gripping, with the second possibly even more so since the characters were, by then, more well established which allowed her to delve further into their personalities and back stories, forcing the reader to question everything we thought we knew about these now familiar faces.
As much as I’m desperate to check into the cosy Seaview to join Helen in her exploits, and of course to pet good old trusty Suki, I don’t know if I could handle the stress. With the amount of plot twists which emerge so subtly I hadn’t even the slightest anticipation before they were hitting me in the face, I can only imagine the anxiety Helen must feel dealing with these every day. Of course, with a location as atmospheric as the Seaview and friends as wonderful as Sally and Jean I can see why Helen soldiers on through it and, even speaking as a vegetarian, I can say with confidence that I would definitely risk a night or two under the same roof as a murderer if it came with the promise of one of Jean’s full English breakfasts…