I picked up the first Flora Steele mystery, The Bookshop Murder quite on a whim, really just because I was looking for a mystery novel and it was set in a bookshop. I thoroughly enjoyed that one and knew I would continue the series eventually. I finally read book two, Murder on the Pier, this week – and loved it just as much.
What is Merryn Allingham’s Murder on the Pier about?
Sussex, 1956: When bookshop owner Flora Steele goes for a walk along the pier she isn’t expecting to spot a young woman’s body in the stormy waters below. And she’s shocked to discover the victim is someone she knows…
Convinced the death was not an accident, Flora persuades attractive local crime writer Jack Carrington to help her find out what really happened to poor Polly Dakers, a popular young woman with a complicated love life, who’d been at the heart of village life in Abbeymead.
Jack is reluctant to get involved in another murder case at first but even he can’t deny that Polly’s fall seems fishy. An argument at a party, a missed hairdresser’s appointment and a red woollen bobble found on the wooden boards where Polly last stood provide a trail of clues…
As they grow closer to solving the puzzling mystery, the unlikely pair stumble upon several surprising secrets about those closest to Polly. A number of potential suspects begin to emerge. But who really disliked Polly enough to kill her? Was it Raymond, her jilted first love? Harry, her latest beau? Or Evelyn, Harry’s jealous estranged wife?
As the investigation brings them closer to the truth, Flora is intent on unmasking the killer – but will her stealthy sleuthing lead her down a dangerous path?
My review of Murder on the Pier by Merryn Allingham
Like the first book in the Flora Steele series, this one was a winner for me. The vibe is not as comical as some of the cosy mysteries around (the ones with the pun titles) – it’s more Midsomer Murders than Murder She Wrote. I really enjoyed the voice of this – the setting and characters and pace all drew me in. I enjoyed solving the mystery alongside Flora – this is one of those mystery books that I feel really succeeds at bringing the reader along on for the sleuthing. The way the story unfolds gives enough clues as it goes for you to try and piece together at the same time as Flora and Jack, and I thought the ending was satisfying.
I remember enjoying seeing Flora and Jack get to know each other in the previous book, The Bookshop Murder, and their growing friendship continued to charm me this instalment. The slow development of relationships in the background of mystery series like this is something I really appreciate – the way that they develop over several books. I really like the way Jack and Flora challenge each other and feel at ease in each other’s company.
I understand there have been two more Flora Steele books released since Murder on the Pier, and book five is on its way in November – I ordered book 3 right after finishing this one today and am looking forward to finding out what Flora and Jack find themselves up against next.
Murder on the Pier (A Flora Steele Mystery: Book 2) by Merryn Allingham
Out now from Bookouture.
Source: Free ecopy kindly provided by Bookouture via Netgalley (thank you!)