Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Smugglers & Scones: Moorehaven Mysteries #1 is a sleuth mystery novel written by Morgan C. Talbot. Pippa Winterbourne had never seriously considered a career as a private investigator, but her occupation as the hostess/proprietor of the Moorehaven Bed & Breakfast certainly would have qualified her to work as one. The luxurious B&B, which was perched on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Seacrest, Oregon, was the former home of Raymond Moore, a prolific and renowned mystery writer, who left his estate to Pippa’s Uncle Hilt with the provision that only mystery authors would be allowed to stay as paying guests. The company of mystery writers was fraught with the unexpected as they invariably ate, spoke and lived, often with sub-optimal results, the plots they were dreaming up in their minds. After all, what better way to craft an authentic experience for your character than to live it first? Pippa’s world was mystery, and she had become quite content with that fact. One night, however, she was awoken by the shrieking of tortured metal, and she realized that a boat had gone aground on the rocks below the B&B. She ran outside and saw the splintered remains of a boat with one lone man clutching onto the debris. Pippa threw him a flotation ring from one of the rescue boxes on the beach stairs and towed the disoriented man onto the beach. He had no memory of the last few hours, and complained of a head injury. Only later did the authorities find the body of a second man who was on that boat, and the rescued man was their prime suspect.
Morgan C. Talbot’s sleuth mystery novel, Smugglers & Scones: Moorehaven Mysteries #1, is an appealing blend of the noir mystery, cozy mystery and romantic suspense genres as Pippa, Lake, and the Moorehaven guests work to solve the mystery surrounding a Prohibition-era treasure. Talbot’s plot is first-rate, giving the armchair sleuth plenty of red herrings and clues to work with, and her characters are authentic and multi-faceted. I particularly enjoyed reading about Raymond Moore, Talbot’s classic crime fiction writer, and reading the selected quotes from his work which appear as the headings for each of her chapters. The setting for this novel, a Gothic pile perched over the Pacific Ocean is brilliant, and the little town of Seacrest was very inviting indeed, excepting, of course, for the non-stop damp, drizzle and fog that is coastal Oregon. Smugglers & Scones: Moorehaven Mysteries #1 is well-written and a joy to read; it’s highly recommended.