Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“A murder with no known suspects. A chance meeting that changes everything…”
A shorter story of gruesome murder, deep detective work and dark characters you simply can’t help but get enough of! I’ve been absolutely dying to read this one (pun not intended) and I was so happy with the outcome. A book from an author with a crime and forensics background is sure to make a statement, and this one didn’t disappoint. I really hope this author continues to write crime novels after this one because I need more already – so so happy to share my review for this book!
Simon Croft has seen death before. Yet the death of a drug user leads him down a path he has yet to experience. A dark crime has been committed on the south coast of Sussex, and it is going to take all of his skill to get this case solved.
A murder with no suspects is always hard, but evidence is always left behind. Simon’s attention is caught by two unassuming people, Bethany and Stevie, who seem to be hiding something.
Simon has to deal with his personal life, while feeling the mounting pressure of a death that can’t be explained. This gripping murder mystery will have you questioning if a trip to the seaside is worth it.
Simon Crofts seemed to be a very laid back main character. He’s dealt with a lot of death throughout his career, so when he gets a call about a suspicious death, he thinks it’s just another day in the office. How wrong he was! The opening to the book doesn’t mess around with any lengthy backstory, nor does it take the reader long to really get drawn into the book – we’re right there with the characters as soon as it matters, and I loved it! I knew we were in for quite a ride when Simon receives the call, and as a lover of a good murder mystery, I knew the crime scene would set those alarm bells ringing. Who was the victim? What were Simon and his team getting themselves into? The opening to the book was very strong and gave the reader everything they needed to know in a short space of time. The author has done a brilliant job of setting the scene!
We soon learn of another main character in the story, Bethany, and I enjoyed how we hear about different points of view from a range of characters. Bethany hasn’t had the easiest upbringing and the detail about her life was so well put together by the author. Stevie, another significant character in the story, was also brilliantly portrayed; his failing marriage and party-animal-at-heart personality really made him stand out just as well. I was curious to see how these characters would play their parts in this story and just how they’d be involved in a murder investigation. The author has done a great job of making the reader ask so many questions early on and I couldn’t wait to see how this entire murder mystery unfolded!
The author has used a few sneaky cliff hangers at the end of certain chapters which really piqued my curiosity and forced me to continue reading! I liked Bethany’s character and I felt like she did have something to hide – but perhaps this was just her quiet and withdrawn personality. Crofts gets ever closer to the body that would change everything and the author has built up the suspense perfectly here. With so many thoughts going through my head about what they’d find, I was starting to get impatient! When things are finally uncovered, the injuries on the victim are suspicious which meant the characters would have to do some more digging. I was looking forward to seeing what they would uncover and just who would be behind the attack! How did Bethany and Stevie fit into this mess? The best was yet to come!
“It was her secret, but it was getting closer by the day.”
I liked how the book went into detail about how forensics collected evidence and I found the reading experience to be very informative. If you’re getting into the murder mystery genre for the first time, I think this book would be perfect to start with! It’s clear the author knows his stuff when it comes to crime and forensics and I always think that a knowledge of this always makes a book of this genre stand out a lot more. We begin to learn more about the different main characters now the story was in full swing which I really think helped the depth of the story. The beginning of the book was a great experience and I only had high hopes for what was to come next.
Two of the main characters meet for the first time and I could just tell things were about to heat up. The pair seemed to get on well, but at this point, I still couldn’t work out what they had in common, or what they’re both hiding. The author keeps us guessing which is always a sign of a good mystery, I was so eager to find out more! I also picked up on the fact that Crofts and Stevie have complete opposite lives; Crofts had a loving wife and kids to come to home to every day, whereas Stevie’s wife makes him unhappy and on the verge of depression with each passing moment. I thought both of these scenarios were moving in different ways, and each brings the reader deeper into the story where they can grow attached to these characters – it was really well written!
Just when we think the first murder is terrible enough, we get the absolute shock of our lives. Things take such an unexpected dark turn and my jaw dropped in shock! Yet more murder is unveiled a little more close to home for the reader and now Crofts and his team had an even bigger mystery on their hands. I absolutely loved how the reader knows exactly what’s happened before anyone else in the book and I felt like I had a part in this secret myself, which was a very strange feeling! The suspense was building and one certain character may have just gotten himself into something he never dreamed of in a million years. Would this character get caught? Would be police understand that it was an accident and he didn’t mean any harm?
The story has some VERY gruesome elements which were made even more impactful by a character who doesn’t seem to have any remorse for their actions. My views on this character changed dramatically over such a short space of time which I thought was a clever addition to the story from the author. I really enjoyed how we followed the stories of multiple characters and even though there were many characters to keep track of, it didn’t feel confusing or hard to follow – in fact, quite the opposite! I loved how these individual stories were developing and I could sense them all slowly closing together. I knew that if/when these stories collided, it would make some great reading!
“Naomi answered as she tore into the black plastic. That was when the screams started.”
It isn’t long before the police are alerted of a missing person and the plot gets deeper and more exciting than ever before. Again, I found the detail in the description to be so satisfying for the story and each character and their persona really make the story what it is. It was easy to visualise each scene and place yourself in each character’s shoes, and I kept getting a feeling that something crucial in the story was imminent. Would the truth about the murders come out? Will Stevie get the shock of his life and will Crofts get the most horrifying case of his career? I liked where the story was heading and couldn’t wait to see how the author ended the book!
Stevie’s life was changing dramatically and with his wife doing all she can to dish the dirt, it was only a matter of time before she found out his secret! Crofts begins to get more involved in the missing person case and so was the reader, and I found the story to be so addictive at this point. The paragraphs in the story are short but they keep you guessing what will happen next. With so much up in the air, I knew some characters would be in for the shock of their lives, and others, perhaps something they were least expecting. I loved one particular scene where two characters find a gruesome discovery that the readers of the book know is coming! The ending was turning out to be quite the ride – what else were we about the experience?
As we get nearer to the end of the book, there’s so much detective work going on to solve this new case and I loved how busy and knowledgeable the characters were – it made me want to change my career path! I’ve always found detective work fascinating and this story has just made me love it even more. All characters involved do a great job of analysing the facts and information, and again, the author’s knowledge of crime and forensics really complement the story at this stage. The book became very additive and this point and I couldn’t stop reading! I needed to know exactly what happened next and if the murderer would ever be caught. There were still questions to be answered before the story ended – would we get the answers we need or would the case remain a mystery?
I loved how detectives began to close in on the final details of the murder and it showed just how much you can uncover when you know what you’re looking for! The author’s detail and just how the plot of the book comes together was very impressive. The more we get into the nitty gritty of the case, we see breakthroughs for those working on the case and they get ever closer to arresting the right guy, and potentially even the wrong one. The murderer was a strange character; even though what they did was unforgiving and completely monstrous, there was still a part of me that felt sorry for what they experienced in life before the incident. The sign of amazing character development if I ever saw it. The final chapter of the book arrived and I was so curious to see how the story ended!
“It was like an end-of-term assembly; the nervous energy pumping around the room was almost making people giddy with excitement.”
The finale! I need more! (Brian, I hope to god you’re writing another book as we speak!) I thought the book played out so differently to other books I’ve read – we don’t get every detail but at the same time, the book closes in a way that does answer questions and gives us a great sense of satisfaction. I found myself thinking of how things could have been so much different for the characters involved if they just made one or two different decisions on the day this murder took place. What if one character had taken a taxi? What if one character didn’t feel lonely or isolated? The author has created a really great story here and I’m excited to see what’s next in the author’s journey. A five star read for me!
If you like a gruesome read with an addictive mystery to solve, you’re going to love this! From an author with a wealth of crime and forensics experience, combined with a wonderful talent for story telling, we really get the best of both worlds in this book. The detail in the description is out of this world and the story is so easy to get lost in! If you’re new to this genre, this is definitely one to start with, or, if you’re looking for a quicker read but with all the same exciting elements a murder mystery brings, I’d recommend this one wholeheartedly. A truly fabulous read and I can’t wait to read more work from this author!
Thank you so much to the author, Brian Gee and Panther Publishing for my copy of the book to read and review! You can purchase your own copy of Murder By The Seaside through the Panther Publishing site here and through Amazon. Make sure you follow the author on Twitter and Instagram for updates!