Smugglers & Scones

Moorehaven Mysteries #1

Fiction - Mystery - Sleuth
224 Pages
Reviewed on 05/05/2017
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Author Biography

USA Today Bestselling Author Morgan Talbot is an outdoorsy girl with a deep and abiding love for the natural sciences. Her degrees involve English and jujitsu. She enjoys hiking, camping, and wandering in the woods looking for the trail to the car, but there isn't enough chocolate on the planet to bribe her into rock climbing.

When she's not writing, she can be found making puzzles, getting lost on the way to geocaches, reading stories to her children, or taking far too many pictures of the same tree or rock.

Morgan is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and served as a panelist at Left Coast Crime 2015: Crimelandia. She lives in Eastern Washington with her family.

    Book Review

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.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Pippa Winterbourne is the manager of Moorehaven Bed and Breakfast Inn, in the tiny community of Seacrest along the Oregon coast. The Inn had once been the home of the famous mystery writer, Raymond Moore, and his will stated quite clearly that his home would be used as an Inn for fellow mystery writers only. That and Pippa, the two rescue cats, who bore names from Moore’s novels, and the most lovable and amusing character, Pippa’s Great Uncle Hilt. All very significant details, but really what defined Pippa and her life at Moorehaven could be seen in the classic painting, a reproduction really as the actual painting would be worth a fortune, that hung across the hallway from the front desk. The painting, "Paradiso Fugace" by Alessandro Baldochiero, was an Italian countryside scene with an afternoon storm approaching in the far horizon. Pippa associated her life with the ongoing struggle within the painting between the calm of the landscape scene and the threat of the oncoming storm. When a boat landing on the rocks below the Inn awakens her in the middle of the night, Pippa is thrust into a storm that not only sees her rescuing a handsome stranger, but defending this stranger from being charged with murder. Along with some of the other women in the town, Pippa and her Inn full of mystery writers plow into the mystery surrounding the growing number of murders in this tiny community and the hint of a hidden treasure. Moore had hinted as much in his novel, The Crimson Kiss.

Smugglers and Scones is the first book in Morgan C. Talbot’s Moorehaven Mysteries series. Complete with mouthwatering scones, and other goodies, (some recipes included at the end), the plot clips along with very likeable characters and a community full of every form of humanity, from the nosy neighbor to the delectable baker and the lovely ladies who manage the tourists who flock to this little piece of heaven. And then there’s the group of mystery writers, each with their unique temperaments and quirks. There are a lot of secrets in this little community and it’s the secrets that underline the mystery and bring some resolution to the story and to its characters. A charming, somewhat romantic mystery with a lot of heart. A real pleasure to read.

Lisa McCombs

“Pippa! Al Daulton here. I need to kill a few people this weekend. Can you help me out?” When Pippa Winterbourne finds herself running Moorehaven Bed and Breakfast Inn, she realizes that this is the standard greeting she will present to the mystery authors who convene at the eccentric writers retreat in Seacrest. Surrounded by year-round guests at the exclusive B&B, it is no surprise that Pippa and her Uncle Hilt end up in the midst of a dangerous mystery of not one, but two murders. Throw in an untrained summer intern, a dashingly seductive accident victim, and an assortment of excitable authors, and Pippa’s reclusive existence in her small oceanside home suddenly becomes very, very interesting. As Pippa and her odd collection of townspeople dive head first into solving the mystery of the town’s murderer, she doubts that life will ever return to the quiet aura to which she is accustomed. But she certainly hopes that life will include Lake Ivens.

Mystery lovers, beware! You will fall in love with this book. Not since Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity mysteries have I enjoyed a read as much as Smugglers and Scones (Moorehaven Mysteries Book 1) by Morgan C. Talbot. Talbot’s quirky sense of humor and animated character development provided a thoroughly entertaining afternoon read. Being the first in a series, this book feeds my anticipation for future tales involving Pippa and her beloved cast of characters. In this story set in famous mystery author Raymond Moore’s estate, Morgan C. Talbot offers a grand combination of romance and intrigue while incorporating Raymond Moore’s own writings as a delectable backdrop. (Talbot also includes some yummy scone recipes!)