I loved the first four books in Gayle Roper’s Seaside series – Spring Rain: 1, Summer Shadows: 2, Autumn Dreams: 3, and Winter Winds. Although all five books are based in Seaside, New Jersey, they can be read in any order or as stand-alones, as the main characters in each book are different, with only a few references to recurring minor characters. If you want to know my absolute favourite, it’s always the one I read last – whichever one that was. Each has its own appeal. So when I found out that Roper had written another book in the series, I was keen to read it. So, does Shadows on the Sand: A Seaside Mystery (Seaside Mysteries) measure up? Certainly. It is now my favourite – at least, until I re-read one of the other books (or the entire series).
Carrie Carter runs Carrie’s Café, helped by her sister, Lindsay, Ricky (their cook, who is in love with Lindsay), Adie, a teenage waitress, and Jace, her part-time dishwasher. Adie is madly in love with Bill, who apparently knocked Jace out at a party for spending too much time talking to Adie - but now Jace is missing again, having only recently returned to Seaside after several years with The Pathway, a cult in Arizona. Carrie is concerned for Adie and her relationship with Bill, as Adie reminds her of the motherless teenage runaway she once was.
Greg Barnes (the Police Chief in previous books) lost his wife and children three years ago in a car bomb attack. Having resigned from the police force, Greg now works as a property manager for some of the summer rentals around Seaside, eating at Carrie’s every day as he slowly recovers from his losses. Carrie has been secretly in love with Greg for ages, but he never notices her.
Meanwhile, Seaside has discovered Twitter, with all the happenings of the town promptly tweeted by an elderly café customer who manages to be wherever something of interest is happening. This provides both a unique plot device and some amusing moments.
Shadows on the Sand: A Seaside Mystery (Seaside Mysteries) follows the same successful romantic suspense formula as the previous Seaside novels. The main story is told in the first person from Carrie’s point of view, and in the third person (which allows us to see the situation from the point of view of Greg and Adie), with both interspersed with brief insights into the mind of the (unnamed) villain. Underneath, Roper explores recovery from grief, cults and forgiveness in a novel that is amusing, suspenseful and romantic in turns.
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