Smile Beach Murder (Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery #1) by Alicia Bessette #bookreview #mystery

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Title: Smile Beach Murder

Author: Alicia Bessette

Publisher: Berkley 

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Page Count: 352

My rating: 4 stars

About the book:

From author Alicia Bessette comes an all-new mystery series featuring Callie Padget, a former reporter turned bookshop clerk in the Outer Banks who is pulled into a deadly web of secrets when a mysterious fall at a lighthouse echoes a tragedy from her past.

When Callie is laid off from her reporting job, she returns to her hometown of Cattail Island and lands a gig at the local bookstore—the same one where she found comfort after her mother died. 

In fact, the anniversary of her mother’s infamous death is approaching. Years ago, Teri Padget tumbled from the top of the lighthouse. As islanders are once again gossiping about the tragedy, devastating news strikes: the lighthouse has claimed another victim. Eva Meeks, of Meeks Hardware. 

The police are calling it suicide, but Callie does not believe Eva jumped any more than she believes her mother did—especially because Callie knows that before her death, Eva had dug up a long-forgotten treasure hunt that could have put a target on Eva’s back. 

In Callie’s search for answers, she enlists the help of some beloved books and several new friends, including the handsome local martial arts instructor, Toby Dodge. But when another death rocks Cattail Island, Callie must face her fears alone. As she earns enemies in pursuit of the truth, Callie knows she will either uncover the killer or become a victim herself.

Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette is the first book in the cozy Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery series. As with most cozy mystery series the books in this series each feature a new mystery to be fully solved so they can be read as a standalone or in any order if choosing to do so. There will be however character development that carries over from book to book for those following from the beginning.

Callie grew up on Cattail Island but had left the small town to pursue a career as a journalist. Callie’s memories weren’t the greatest from her childhood as she had lost her mother to a tragic incident but when Callie loses her job she decides to return to Cattail Island while she decides what is next in her life.

As Callie begins to fit into her small town again taking a job at the local bookstore working for old friends she begins to remember some fonder moments. However, the past comes crashing back for Callie when another friend is found at the bottom of the lighthouse, the same that Callie’s mother fell from. The police rule another suicide but this time Callie knows that is not the case and vows to get to the truth.

Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette was a wonderful opening installment to the Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery series. I have to admit being a fan of a beachy small town setting the Outer Banks really appealed to me and the author did a great job bringing the town and characters to life. I loved that Callie had a reporting background to give little more credit to her sleuthing and I enjoyed getting to know her and those surrounding her. Also mixing the past and the present made the mystery twice as interesting to follow. Will definitely be interested in returning to the series with book two!

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

Find this book online:

Goodreads  /  Amazon  

About the author:

Before authoring the Outer Banks Bookshop mystery series, Alicia Bessette worked as a reporter in her home state of Massachusetts, where her writing won a first-place award from the New England Newspaper & Press Association. A pianist, published poet, and enthusiastic birdwatcher, she now loves living in coastal North Carolina with her husband, novelist Matthew Quick. Visit her online at and on Instagram at

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