Shame and confusion have kept Mallory Davis from her home for the last fifteen years, but when her dad mysteriously dies on his mail boat route, she doesn’t have any choice but to go back to Mermaid Point. Mallory believes her father was murdered and childhood sweetheart Kevin O’Connor, game warden in Downeast Maine, confirms her suspicions. But Kevin is wary of helping Mallory in her search. She broke his heart and left—without a word—years ago. When Mallory begins receiving threats on her own life—and her beloved teenage daughter, Haylie—their search intensifies. There’s a tangled web within the supposed murder, and it involves much more than what meets the eye. As answers begin to fall into place, Mallory realizes her search is about more than finding her father’s killer—it is also about finding herself again . . . and possibly about healing what was broken so long ago with Kevin. She just has to stay alive long enough to put all the pieces together.
Mallory Davis is a jewelry designer in Bangor, Maine, specializing in sea glass designs, trying to make ends meet. As she's picking up her daughter from school one day, she gets a call from her father, who runs a mail boat service in Mallory's hometown of Mermaid Point. He sounds seriously injured, squeezing out the words "Find...Mother" before the call cuts off. Not only is Mallory crazy worried about him, she's also confused. Her mother died fifteen years earlier, or so she thought?
Mallory contacts her ex-boyfriend, Kevin O'Connor, who still works as a game warden in Mermaid Point. She quickly (and in a panic) relays the situation to him and he promises to immediately take his boat out and go check on her father. What he finds confirms Mallory's suspicions -- it looks like her father has been murdered. Next, his home and mail sorting office are ransacked. Now, as Mallory, with Kevin's help, investigates what her father's final message might have meant, she finds that someone is now threatening not only her life but that of her teen daughter, Haylie. In fact, nearly everyone who associates with Mallory seems to end up dead or injured, or they have their property damaged / destroyed.
While all this is going on, Kevin discovers he's got some embers of romantic interest getting stirred up again around old flame Mallory. No surprise there, but to complicate matters, Kevin's ex-wife pops back up on the scene to start up a visitation tug-of-war over their daughter... after 8 years of virtually no contact. The complications don't stop there. Coble throws in some crazy family ties (through marriage, that is) between Kevin, Mallory and Kevin's ex-wife DeAnn until the story just becomes one big convoluted, far-fetched soap opera.
And speaking of convoluted, if Coble is going to be dropping so many place names into this series, she should start including a map so readers can keep track of where all these people are traveling. In this story alone, there was Sunset Cove, Mermaid Point, Folly Shoals, and Summer Harbor... just to name a few!
All in all, this was a middle of the road, breezy mystery read for me. I didn't find the mystery all that intense, though there is a minor plot twist near the end that gave things some extra interest. I also wasn't that wowed by the relationship between Kevin and Mallory, that you pretty much know from the get-go (if you've read enough of these kind of stories) is going to be a rekindled romance. I didn't like how the big secret around why they broke up in the first place was dangled about for what seemed like FOREVER before they just came out and addressed it. By the time the reveal came, I was just over caring about it and just wanted to find out how the murder mystery wrapped up. As often happens with stories where I get a little meh about the main plot, I did find minor characters that kept me reading just to know their stories. I especially liked the sassy character, Dixie!
One extra fun connection here that I was not expecting was the cross-over appearance of the character Gwen Marcey, the forensic artist from Carrie Stuart Parks' fantastic Gwen Marcey series. The way Marcey was portrayed here didn't feel entirely seamless with her characterization in the series, so I didn't even catch the connection until Coble mentions it in a note at the end. But I was stoked to read in that same note that another Marcey novel is due out this August! :-)
Note To Readers: This is Book #2 in Coble's Sunset Cove series. I've not read the first book. While I've heard from other reviewers that there are a few crossover characters mentioned from the first book into this one, it appears that the stories can be read independently as stand-alone works.
FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.