Title: Murder at Harbor Village
Author: G.P. Gardner
Publisher: Lyrical Underground
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Page Count: 226
My rating: 3 1/2 stars
About the book:
Young retiree Cleo Mack is trading in academia for a second act in Harbor Village, a community for active seniors in coastal Alabama. But someone in this picture-perfect coastal town is burning the candle at both ends . . .
It’s love at first sight when Cleo arrives in Fairhope, Alabama, after taking early retirement from her longtime position as professor of social work. Touted as “the nicest town in the world,” Fairhope is home to an eclectic community of retirees. Harbor Village boasts classes in painting, pottery, and photography, not to mention being a buyer’s market for husbands. It seems an ideal place to make new friends and rediscover life. Until a dead body is found in the pool.
When the victim turns out to be the unpopular director of senior living, Cleo is named acting director. Now she must rely on her well-honed people skills to uncover a killer in a place where short-term memory isn’t what it used to be, and age is just a number. And if Cleo keeps snooping around, her number may soon be up . . .
As Cleo Mack is debating over taking an early retirement opportunity from her job as a professor of social work she decides to take a few days to stay in Fairhope, Alabama. As Cleo is exploring the small town and it’s charm she meets a few residents that direct her over to the retirement community which Cleo immediately adores.
Looking into becoming a resident even though she’s not quite of age yet Cleo ends up meeting with the director who offers her a part time job thus eliminating another of Cleo’s worries. Before Cleo even settles in though a murder takes place and she finds herself handed the reigns of the whole facility with a murder to solve on top of the new duties.
Murder at Harbor Village by G.P. Gardner is the first book in a new cozy mystery series featuring an older protagonist. This one so far has a lot of glowing reviews but I find myself with a few doubts when done with this one. One big thing for me as a reader is this one wasn’t the over the top quirky/comical I enjoy the most but that is simply a matter of taste.
However, what I did find in this book that was a bit over the top was the believability factor of Cleo’s story. We have a character arriving in a random town to think about retiring suddenly being handed a job she did not look or apply for along with a place to stay. Then to go even further she’s handed the director position and running the whole establishment within days instead of becoming a suspect when it’s found that by total coincidence her ex is married to the victim. Really? Of all the towns in all the world….
So needless to say the set up of how Cleo comes to the community didn’t sit quite right with me although I did like her as a character. I also did enjoy the idea behind why the murder happened and think that was the more believable side of the story although it might have also benefited from a few more suspects. In the end though I think this setting and character have potential if the coincidences are toned back in the future and I’d rate this one at 3.5 stars for now.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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About the author:
Born and raised in Alabama, G. P. Gardner earned BS and MA degrees in Psychology from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL) and an MBA from Jacksonville State University (Jacksonville, AL). She also attended the University of Georgia (Athens, GA), where she studied biopsychology and primatology. But her heart belongs to Talladega College—an HBCU and the first educational institution in Alabama to admit students without regard to race—where she taught business. Her writing life began with short stories, some of which were published in regional literary journals and some of which won prizes. She enjoys the classic mystery writers as well as contemporary whodunits, but reads widely. She is a knitter and once owned a knit shop in Fairhope, AL. She studied mystery writing with Terry Cline, another Fairhope resident. Murder in Harbor Village is the first in her series about social worker Cleo Mack. You can visit her at gpgardner.com.