The twists and turns on this cozy crime novel will keep you on your toes and longing for more after you turn the last page. I can’t wait to see more of Grace, Hannah, Jean, and especially Harvey.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

About the Book

As dawn breaks over the empty beaches of Portobello, Grace McKenna emerges from the icy water after her daily swim, her loyal dog Harvey by her side. Little does she know, in the shadows, a cold-blooded killer is plotting his next move…

Edinburgh, Scotland. After the toughest year of her life, Detective Grace McKenna is grateful for her job running the fledgling Portobello Detective Agency… though another client or two would certainly help keep the wolf from the door. So when the glamourous widow of renowned psychic Paul Gordon entreats her to investigate his suspicious death, Grace sees a unique opportunity to make a name for the agency.

Joining forces with Tobias Sloan – a dapper investigative reporter seeking answers about his wife’s tragic passing – their search takes a dark turn when the body of a beautiful young woman is found at a nearby elite golf club. The evidence leads them straight to Merchiston College of Psychic Studies – the very place where Paul Gordon met his grisly end.

Uncovering a shocking secret linking the two murders, Grace finds her professional and personal boundaries are beginning to blur. She is left to face not only the ghosts of her own past, but also the prospect of a hardened killer stalking the quiet lanes of Edinburgh. With time running out and the lives of her team hanging in the balance, can Grace McKenna solve the murders, and save herself from the same deadly fate?

A gripping Scottish mystery with a sprinkle of small-town charm, perfect for fans of Faith Martin, Clare Chase and Frances Evesham.

My Thoughts

This is a powerful book that touches on a lot of tough subjects. Grace and her green staff of investigators take on a huge case for their little private detecting agency. I really enjoyed the fact that it was an all women-staffed agency, and that there were three of them, plus Harvey the dog. Both are unusual in the noir/cozy crossover type books. Other elements, like the multi-faceted love triangle (square?) for the main character and at least one character that could not ignore danger no matter what, are common staples of the genre. The character building was beautifully done, those some of the secondary characters could do with a little expansion. Since this is the first in a series, I’m okay with that. The author needs somewhere to go from here, and it left me wanting to get to know them more.

The author amazingly developed the story. The twists and turns were unexpected and delightfully surprising. So often, I read and watch mystery stories and know exactly who did it within the first few pages. This time it kept me guessing right until the end on every account. There is a bit of a supernatural thread, which I don’t think the author meant to imply was real, but even there she kept us guessing all the way through. That makes the story go so fast and makes you keep turning the pages. That, coupled with the short, bite-sized chapters, can become a dangerous game of “just one more chapter” late into the night. It absolutely kept me up late a couple of nights, which is all it took for me to devour it.

Grace is a bit of a broken character, and so are the other two ladies – Hannah and Jean – in her office. They are all loveable in their own way, and I ended up rooting for them to find their light. There are absolutely ways for the characters to grow and change in the future, and this is going on my list of series to watch. I look forward to the next installment, and will absolutely watch for more books by this author. I’m so pleased to have been included in the book tour by the author and Love Books Tours.

Who’s It For

Those who love a cozy mystery should enjoy this novel. It has all the common elements: a whip-smart detective and even assistants, a loveable animal companion, clean, romantic allusion, and a non-police detective. The last one is a bit of a technicality, though. It’s labeled as a cozy crime/mystery series, I guess technically because Grace is ex-police. But it is much grittier and dark than your typical modern cozy – heralding back to a different era of cozies, and I’m here for it. Today, it might well better fit into what is frequently called a cozy crossover. So if you’re not into a gritter/noir feel, you might not enjoy it as much. I love both the touchy-feely bakery types and these, so I loved it.

Content Warning: Suicide, Suicidal Ideation, Relationship Abuse, Adult Language, Child Harm, Violence

About the Author

Jackie Baldwin was born in Dumfries. She studied law at Edinburgh University returning to Dumfries to practice criminal and family law for several years. She later retrained as a hypnotherapist.

Married, with two grown up children she now lives in the countryside just thirty minutes away from Portobello Beach where her latest series is set.

When she’s not writing she loves spending time with her young grandson and walking along the beach with her dog Lucy.

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