Warning: This review contains mild spoilers for earlier books in the series.

I am a cozy lover, and this is such a great addition to the genre. This is the third installment of Jackie Baldwin’s Portobello Detective Agency series, and I was hooked from the first book.

About the Book

When young, pretty Eliza Anderson walks through Grace McKenna’s door begging for help finding her missing sister, it sparks the Portobello Detective Agency’s most dangerous investigation to date.

The trail leads Grace and her team to a plush clinic nestled in Scotland’s remote wilderness. On the surface, Whiteadder House seems too good to be true, offering miracle cures and luxury comfort at no cost. But as they dig deeper, the cracks in its gleaming façade start to show.

Before long, Grace and her protégée Hannah are fighting to infiltrate Whiteadder’s inner sanctum, going undercover while racing to uncover its dark secrets. Little do they know that Whiteadder’s founders have been buying influence at the highest levels to keep prying eyes away, and this time Grace is not going to get any help from the police. Has her handsome ex-husband Brodie been compromised too?

With the facility locked down tight and a web of corruption allowing Whiteadder to operate unchecked, Grace must trust her instincts and sacrifice everything to find a way in to save her client’s sister – and, even more difficult, a way out. Then a young woman’s body is found on a nearby beach – could it be linked to the clinic? Grace knows she must find out before more lives are lost…

A totally gripping Scottish cozy mystery. Fans of Clare Chase, Faith Martin and Frances Evesham will love this series.

My Thoughts

While some elements of the series are darker than most cozies – such as the main character Grace’s loss of her son before book 1, and her grief associated with that loss – at its heart it is a cozy. It features some amazing, whip-smart, kick-ass female characters at the center who take on mysteries with near-reckless abandon. Grace and her two employees Hannah and Jean solve dangerous cases to help their clients and save the day, often finding themselves in tricky spots.

The relationships and character growth we see throughout the books is phenomenal. Grace makes some decisions regarding her personal life at the end of this book (I don’t want to spoil it) that I want to see her stick with, but I also know we’re all only human. I’m looking forward to the next book to see how things turn out.

One of the things I love about cozies is that they’re just as much about the characters as they are about the murder. In most of them, the mystery is well-developed, and it’s fantastic to follow, but in some ways, it’s almost beside the point. The human element, including a strong social commentary, is frequently more pressing. Series like these don’t last for 18 books (or TV seasons) because we are morbid, but because the hope of the human element attracts us. And this one will keep me coming back as long as the author chooses to write it!

Who’s It For?

If you love a cozy mystery, you’ll love this series and this book. It features a whip-smart ex-lady cop as the lead, with a cast of strong female characters to back her up. Messy romance, strong cases, and harrowing cases keep the group on their toes. Whether you’re a devoted reader of the genre, or you’ve cut your teeth on shows like Father Brown and Granchester, this is a great series for you. But don’t expect just cozy vibes. Murder is not the only serious subject Baldwin tackles within her pages.

Content Warning: Pregnancy, Infidelity, Adult Situations, Adult Language, Violence, Betrayal, Torture, Child Harm, Patient Harm, Medical Trauma, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Medical Malpractice, Human Testing/Experimentation

Question of the Day

Do you have a favorite female detective?

Answer of the Day

Hard to choose, but Aurora Teagarden, Odelia Grey, and Hannah Swenson are in my top ones.

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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