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A special thank you to Thomas Nelson-Fiction and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
After reading Colleen Coble’s Hope Beach series, was delighted to receive an ARC of THE INN AT OCEAN’S EDGE (Sunset Cove #1). This is one intriguing and complex multi-layered mystery suspense page-turner thriller!
Coble is at the "top of her game" with this new and exciting series of lies, dark family secrets, murder, and conspiracy.
The story opens with a brief encounter from 1989 with a scared little girl in the forest, near the cliffs and the sea, as the branches around her hold scary shadows. She hears a woman’s voice, sees a scarf, and an angry man doing bad things, and she has to escape . . . he is after her and then all goes black.
We jump to the present on the coastal shore of Maine with a stunning ocean front five story Hotel Tourmaline in a remote area, to the northeast of Schoodic Peninsula, on the island of Folly Shoals sitting atop its pink-granite cliffs.
Claire Dellamare, twenty-nine from Boston, has been on the road for five and a half hours plus a ferry ride from Summer Harbor to reach the rocky shore. As she emerged from her white Mercedes, as she looks up at the hotel, she gets an uneasy shiver down her spine.
She is here on business, to meet her millionaire dad, Harry Dellamare, coming to help with the upcoming merger. She is greeted by Jenny, the clerk, an attractive blonde in her thirties as she hands her the keys to the penthouse. Her dad is surprised to see her as he was not expecting her.
However, something weird is happening, as she cannot breathe—she is having a panic attack, or could it be a heart attack? She has to get out of here. She runs out of the hotel to the ocean front to get her breath, thinking the sea would calm her.
In the meantime, Luke Rocco is on a boat headed towards Sunset Cove on the south side of the island with his sister Megan. He joined the coast guard years ago and loves it; however, presently Megan informs him she is taking a job in Oregon. He couldn’t much blame her since he left three years earlier as she was stuck with the family cranberry farm, which has been in their family for many years. Someone would have to pick up the slack, and Luke was not thrilled at the prospects of having to work with their father nor coming back to this small remote town he spent his life trying to escape. Their dad was not a nice man and had gotten worse since his stroke.
They never have forgotten their mom’s disappearance twenty-five years ago. Being the island was so remote, unfortunately it still remained a mystery.
Gorgeous Claire meets Luke and Megan, as they are trying to rescue an orca and they do not get off to a good start, first with the panic attack and she jumps to the wrong conclusion when Luke was only trying to rescue the orca. She happens to be a volunteer for the organization. The love of the sea, bonds them instantly.
When Luke learns of her name, he recalls back in the 90’s when Claire went missing a year out in the forest. However, Claire does not remember and knows about going missing as a child. No wonder she is upset--has she been here before, and her parents had never told her? She had been five when she was found and she has no memory of the event. Maybe her parents will have the answers. As far as she was concerned this was her first visit here. Had she been lied to her entire life? If she had been kidnapped, why did they hold her for a year and what was she doing during this time?
If things could not get any worse there are two people struggling at the edge of the cliff and she witnesses a murder, as a man just threw a woman over the cliff. The woman is Jenny Bennett she just met when she checked into the hotel. Now she recalls the face of the hunter, from her nightmares, only this time there was no fox attached to his belt. However, when the police arrive they see no body. She knows she did not imagine the scene. What did Jenny know?
Luke begins to wonder if Claire may possibly know something about his own mom’s disappearance. However she would only have been four years old at the time. His mother disappeared the same night Claire was taken and was never found. Did Luke’s dad have something to do with his mother’s disappearance and how are the two connected?
She discovers her parents were at the hotel when she was four and had a birthday party in the garden and now she is desperate to remember the events leading up to her abduction and why she cannot remember. Appears she was returned to the hotel with a note. No one ever found out where she was the entire time she was missing. Her parents were married at the hotel and came back every year for their daughter’s birthday; that is until she went missing. In addition, her mom seems worried about something and she feels her dad is hiding something critical.
Claire teams up with Luke as they desperately attempt to find the missing pieces of how she can be linked to his mother’s disappearance since they were on the same day. Victoria Rocco the co-owner of Rocco Cranberries went missing on her customary evening walk and never returned. She did not get as much attention, since searchers were looking for the young girl. Luke was only a kid himself at the time.
When an anonymous letter is sent to the Sheriff stating they should investigate Claire for Jenny’s murder, postmarked the day before the Dellamares arrived and found Jenny’s prints on the envelope. The Sheriff finds it odd Claire claimed Jenny was shoved off a cliff and days later just happens to be the one to find her out at Dead Man’s Cove. After all she had only been gone fifteen minutes from the hotel when it occurred.
At the Fisherman’s Inn there is another plot brewing, a blueberry farm and more dark family secrets. When more bodies turn up and one happens to be a four year old girl who had blond hair – was there a serial killer out there years ago and now he is back? The locket was found which held a picture of her parents with her initials on the back. There could not possibly be two of her? What about the bones of a woman? Could this be Luke and Megan’s mom?
Claire has been attacked several times and this time he takes her drawing of the person she thinks may be the murderer. What if she is not a Dellamare? Someone thinks she may be able to identify him and she is in danger. However they find no evidence of a breakin. Her life is falling apart. She needs God’s help and Luke's—she needs to find solace on the water.
THE INN AT OCEAN'S EDGE is one intense read, as had to stay up until 4 am to finish, as dying to know the identity of the murderer and how these three families are linked together in this complex conspiracy. Wow, Colleen Coble delivers a "top-shelf" mystery crime thriller with light romance suspense—strongly reminding me of Terri Blackstock (a favorite), with Christian faith themes.
Am also reminded of another favorite author, Mary Alice Monroe with the strong connection to the sea creatures, rescue, environment, and its relation to human family bonds and dynamics. In addition, if you are a fan of Christina Dodd’s Virtual Falls series, you will enjoy this one with a mix of suspense, romance, and mystery.
As mentioned in the letter from the author, this is indeed, a deeper and more complex story than any she has written previously and YES, Colleen, you have mastered it-brilliantly written. What an engaging read! I am also a sucker for novels surrounding coastal hotels and inns since have been in the business for a number of years….always an intriguing setting.
A fabulous front cover drawing you into this family mystery. Would love to hear more about the inspiration behind the novel, as she has some imagination— cannot wait to see what comes next in the series. The book would be an idea choice for book clubs and discussions. Highly recommend to readers who enjoy crime mystery suspense romantic thrillers!
“God gives us what we need to face every curve life throws our way. Taking the awful things that happen in life and turning them into diamonds in our path. God gives you what you need, not necessarily what you thought you wanted. Challenges we face in life can make us a better person, if we accept the things that come from God’s hand, and allow him to use them to mold and shape us.”