Cover Image: Murder at Pirate's Cove: An M/M Cozy Mystery

Murder at Pirate's Cove: An M/M Cozy Mystery

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Member Reviews

I am a member of the American Library Association Reading List Award Committee. This title was suggested for the 2021 list. It was not nominated for the award. The complete list of winners and shortlisted titles is at <a href="">
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I was in the mood for something different and Murder at Pirate's Cove certainly fit the bill. I enjoyed the cozy mystery blended with a low key romantic interest. The town was adorable, the characters varied, and the writing smooth. Even better, there were enough twists, red herrings, and suspenseful moments to keep me invested start to finish. I'll definitely be continuing with this series.

*Received copy via Netgalley. The author had no influence over this review*
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i really enjoyed reading this book, the characters were great and I really enjoyed the characters. I look forward to more in this series.
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Lanyan writes in her author’s note to Murder At Pirate’s Cove: “While there may be (and there is) a romantic subplot, these stories are first and foremost mysteries. This may not be your cup of tea, but in these trying times, I find myself turning more and more often to the reassuring comfort of frequent murder in a world where justice always prevails and good will triumph” (Loc 2635). Like Lanyon, I do too. While we can find, in any mystery, “the reassuring comfort of frequent murder in a world where justice prevails, etc.,” and, in a romance, incipient, subtle, subplotty as it may be, the hope of the HEA, there’s something about the combination of the two, in a cozy setting, that makes it especially comforting. I devoured and delighted in Murder At Pirate’s Cove over a couple of days, with necessary breaks to cook, clean, bake, and joyfully actually see a friend in the flesh. Murder In Pirate’s Cove has all the elements of the cozy we know and love, cute small-town-setting, adorably intrepid hero, amusing place-names, a world that is as fantastical as Narnia yet familiar enough to make it an ideal living-place to the reader (despite the murder!), and, in Lanyon, a sly, droll homage to past cozy mysteries and a wonderfully witty writing style.

Set on Rhode-Island’s fictional Buck Island, where our hero, Ellery Page (a nod to Ellery Queen?) inherited Great-great-great Aunt Eudora’s “definitely underwater” (Loc 83-84), meaning in the red, mystery book shop and crumbling mansion. Ellery, a formerly-NYC-based screenwriter, came to Pirate’s Cove for a fresh start, after a bad break-up (cheating-ex, Todd, gets a few well-deserved quips). In the opening scene, Ellery is arguing with town money-man and small-town-real-estate mogul, Trevor Maples, who wants to buy Ellery’s bookshop. Ellery is ambivalent about his place in the town, but he wants to build a life in his new home. That “life” is jeopardized when Maples is found dead, in Ellery’s closed-up, after-hours shop, felled with the pirate sword that, until now in its manifestation as murder weapon, decoratively hung above the till. Ellery is Chief Jack Carson’s number one suspect. Small-town shenanigans and eccentric figures abound as Jack and Ellery work together and apart, with the dubious help of Ellery’s adorable new puppy, Watson, to catch the killer. If you read mysteries for the “mystery”, rather than the characterization and wit, be warned that even a plot-inattentive reader like yours truly figured out the whodunnit about half way through. What kept me reading and delighting? Read on.

For one, Ellery Page’s characterization. Despite good looks and former-glamorous-life-aura, Ellery is funny, self-deprecating, and humble. I loved him from the get-go when he declared himself, “no one had ever accused him of being overly sensible” (Loc 85). His wit (and thus Lanyon’s adept turns of phrase) shines in our introduction to Chief Carson, ” … in his late thirties, had sun-streaked brown hair and eyes the changeful color of sunlight on restless water. His voice was surprisingly pleasant for a guy who never smiled and seemed to live for handing out construction-code violations” (Loc 246-247). Of which Ellery has plenty, including a grumpy admonition about the state of his store locks. 

Yet there is a pathos to Ellery as well, that inspires, like Watson, aw-filled exclamations: “Ellery was a stranger in Pirate’s Cove. He had no history, good or bad, no one could vouch for him, probably no one would even care if he ended up being arrested and convicted. That was the way the world worked. Everybody was busy with their own thing. Even people in small towns, where he had imagined it might be different. It wasn’t different” (Loc 694-696). With every slight little sadness, Lanyon would have me guffawing by the next page. Here is Ellery approaching Janet Maples, Trevor’s ex-wife as she sits in her stationery shop, Old Salt Stationery: “Ellery pinpointed Janet in her usual spot by the front counter, her bony nose stuck in a book titled The Courage To Be Disliked”. Or, as Ellery ponders his move from NYC to Pirate’s Cove: ” … he’d worked hard at different things and he’d saved up, but he had never been sure what he was working toward or what he was saving for. And then things with Todd had fallen apart, and he’d felt … adrift. Like what was the point of any of it? Not in a dramatic long-walk-off-the-pier kind of way, but more like cue Peggy Whatsherface Is That All There Is? … None of his friends and family in New York could understand why he’d felt the need to exchange the city that never sleeps for the village with narcolepsy” (Loc 1551-1557, 1996-1997). This combination of the poignant and droll made Lanyon’s not atypical cozy stand out and make me yearn for more in the series. 

Sometimes, Lanyon takes the wit so far as to be utterly meta. I heart-eyes-emoji loved:

” … if this was a mystery novel, who’s our most likely suspect?”

“You,” Nora answered promptly.


She considered, “Well, perhaps only in an Agatha Christie novel. But you are the least likely suspect, which makes you the most highly suspect.”

“But I’m the hero!”

“Are you, though?”

Isn’t that marvellous? Wait till you read the Murder, She Wrote allusions! Here you’re also introduced to my second favourite character (maybe my third, I can’t make up my mind, because grumpy, stern Chief Carson is pretty adorable too), Nora Sweeny, Ellery’s geriatric, gossip-mongering, mystery-novel-aficionado-and-expert shop assistant. And, if I haven’t convinced you yet, how can you resist this cat-vs-dog-person convo:

“Oh, did you just buy a dog?”

“Sort of,” Ellery admitted. “We’ve adopted each other.” The pup yawned in his ear and tucked his head more comfortably beneath Ellery’s chin.

“Isn’t he adorable?” the mayor said in the polite tone of a cat person.

Add a soupçon of incipient romance between our lovable hero and the stern chief of police and there’s only one more thing that Lanyon need do to win my undying loyalty to her series: write a Christmas-set mystery for Ellery, Jack, Watson, and Pirate’s Cove’s eccentric denizens! With Miss Austen, we say Murder At Pirate’s Cove is indicative of “a mind lively and at ease,” Emma.

Josh Lanyon’s Murder At Pirate’s Cove is self-published. It was released on February 29th and may be found at your preferred vendors. I received an e-galley, via Netgalley.
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There is something undeniably comforting about this story. It is warm and creative and the characters are intriguing and flawed but still lovely people.
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This book was so adorable! It wasn’t very long, but it was still really entertaining and fun! This book follows Ellery Page just after he has arrived in a small town of Pirate’s Cove in Rhode Island because his long lost relative left him a huge house and failing bookstore. He needs a fresh start, and he wants to give this a shot, even though everyone thinks he will fail (Including himself). When his “rival” is found dead on the floor of the bookstore, he must fight off the suspicions of the Police Chief (who may or may not be gay). 

I really enjoyed this book. It didn’t get as far as I’d like in the romance department, but the mystery part was great. I loved the small town, and all the characters. I see that there are more in this series so I am super excited to keep reading and find out what happens next to these characters! 

I was given an advanced reader's copy via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own
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Ellery isn’t exactly living in Pirate’s Cove as a first choice. It’s more of a last ditch effort to restart his life after dealing with a cheating ex and a less than stellar career as a failed actor turned screen writer. Once Ellery found out he is the chief inheritor of a distant and quirky aunt’s estate, leaving him a less than thriving bookstore and a falling down around your ears house, he moved right away to the ideal seaside town. Once there, the local smarmy real estate mogul and mayoral candidate Trevor Maples descends, insisting Ellery name his price so he can buy the store. The guy just won’t take no for an answer, refusing to believe that Ellery intends to keep the bookstore, even though it’s bleeding him dry financially.

After yet another confrontation, Ellery is returning from the local pub and sees his store all lit up, discovers the door unlocked, and finds Trevor’s dead body bleeding all over the wood floor. Before he can process it all, Ellery finds himself the main suspect, as labeled by the not so charming, but still appealing, police chief, Jack Carson, and himself the target of someone willing to go to any lengths to frame him for the murder. As the body count rises, Ellery and Jack must grudgingly work together to figure out who wants Ellery’s business so badly they are willing to kill for it.

Josh Lanyon has begun a new series, Secrets and Scrabble, and things start off with Murder at Pirate’s Cove. More mystery-centric than romance driven, this little gem is humorous, flirtatious, and chock full of quirky, small town characters. But it’s Ellery who really stands center stage and captures the interest and will continue to do so if this first book is anything to go by. Having said goodbye to a life that left him a little heartsore, ready for a career change, and vowing never date again, Ellery moves to the sweet little town of Pirate’s Cove to start over. Even though he knows it’s the off season, his inherited bookstore is still flagging and bleeding money everywhere—not to mention the financial burden the mausoleum he has also inherited has become, needing way more than just a facelift to make it habitable.

When murder comes to his doorstep, Ellery is horrified to discover that the chief of police suspects him. Despite every attempt to be charming and as un-murdery as possible, Ellery finds himself the center of town gossip and condemned as guilty. After he accidentally discovers something incriminating in a hidden closet, Ellery realizes he is going to have to take matters into his own hands in order to clear his name, but while he may be a master at scrabble, he stinks as an amateur detective. Thus begins Ellery’s adventure as a not so capable sleuth, much to Jack Carson’s dismay.

These two are a mismatched pair made in heaven, as far as I’m concerned. With most of the novel not hurrying to reveal whether or not Jack is bisexual and Ellery slowly falling for the cryptic chief, the sexual tension is high, yet not the main focus. Instead, this is all about the mystery and unraveling who the killer actually is and why they chose to frame poor Ellery. We meet some really fascinating town folk—all quirky and suspect in their own right. While this novel has more Jessica Fletcher overtones than Ellery Queen, it’s safe to say that mystery lovers will enjoy this delightful glimpse into the goings on in a seaside town.

I think my only quibble with this novel lay in the idea that we don’t get a clear picture of whether or not Jack and Ellery are going to move forward with their attraction to each other. I must assume that the next book in this series will involve Ellery again, as there is no clear cut secondary character who would warrant an entire novel based on them, so I was hoping the author would give us a bit more romance fodder than we got in this initial story. However, that falls to more my desire than any real fault in the novel itself, so suffice it to say, I am hooked and look forward to the next installment in the series.
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Long-time fans of Lanyon will know that the author often includes a fair amount of angst in their work, but that's largely missing from this book. When it's described as a cozy mystery, a cozy mystery is what the publisher means. That's not to say that Lanyon's clear, engaging writing style isn't in evidence, because it definitely is! I wasn't one hundred percent sold on the central developing romance, and the central mystery plot was well done and engaging. If you're looking for a lighter, fun mystery read.with just a hint of mm romance, this is definitely something I would advise you to pick up!
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Incredibly relaxing and just what I needed during such stressful times. Great plot that keeps you invested in the story and lets you get lost in the characters. I highly recommend this book. It’s difficult to find low-angst books that still maintain a solid storyline and this is one of those rare finds!
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I quite enjoyed this. I didn’t guess the murderer until 90%. The romance is such a slow burn that it doesn’t even culminate in this book, though it’s quite obvious that it’s coming. (For the record, I wouldn’t call this an M/M romance. Rather, I think it is a cozy mystery that just happens to have a gay protagonist.) The writing is clean and readable and I didn’t notice any particular editing problems. What’s to complain about?
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Scrabble-loving Ellery Page can't seem to catch a break. First, he totally flopped on his goal of becoming an actor in New York City. Then his boyfriend cheats on him. Then the great-great-great-aunt he never knew he had dies and leaves him her mystery-themed bookstore on an island called Pirate's Cove--and Ellery doesn't know the first thing about mystery books. His inherited shop and home are major fixer-uppers, customers are few and far between, and he's pretty sure he's the only not-straight person on the island. So it'd totally be bad if the guy he had been loudly arguing with over Ellery's decision to not sell the shop turned up dead, in the bookstore, right?

Yeah. Ellery Page can't catch a break.... But can he crack this case and get himself off the suspect list?

The first in a new series of cozy mysteries, "Murder at Pirate's Cove" is witty and suspenseful. With a mounting suspect list and being new in town, who do you trust? A thrilling but still cozy case awaits those who enter Pirate's Cove!
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I must admit, the scrabble tie in was a bit confusing to me. Not that I can't imagine someone playing scrabble against themselves, but it was just... more useful than one would expect. Needs more thrown away hands because you can't make words out of six vowels and an X XD The story itself was fun, though. Trying to figure out who did it is always a pleasure in Josh Lanyon's books. There are enough hints to believe anything until the truth is revealed!
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I loved this. This is a murder mystery on an island, and it's very cozy. I loved uncovering new evidence with the characters, and being at Pirates Cove in general. It's very fun to read and I highly recommend this book.
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This is the first book that I’ve read from this author, and it was really enjoyable. The characters were really well developed and I loved the Pirate’s Cove setting. I really enjoyed the author’s writing style and pacing. The romance involved in the story was just right. The mystery was great- not too easy to figure out. I would definitely read more from this author and look forward to reading more in this series.
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This is a nice entry into the cozy murder mystery genre, which is just not my favorite genre for whatever reason. I have recently become a big Josh Lanyon fan, though, so I wanted to give this one a try anyway.

One of the things I appreciated the most was its realism. Yes, it takes place in a small town with the requisite cast of island characters with distinct personalities, but there's no OTT zaniness/quirkiness or unbelievable busy-body-ness (written with a straight face by a former Gilmore Girls fan :) And while there is amateur sleuthing involved, there is an excellent motivating reason, he doesn't actually stumble on any big, case-changing clues with his sleuthing, and just when you think he's about to do that thing that makes you yell at your kindle, he pulls his wits about him and smartens up. Twice. 

I was also greatly relieved by the common sense and basic intelligence shown by Mr. Police Chief Jack Carson. But as much as I thought everything with the mystery wrapped up nicely, as a fellow small business owner, my favorite part was probably the developments with the bookstore! I was hardcore questioning Ellery's financial sense at one point -- ok, several points...almost to the point of distraction -- so that was gonna bug the hell out of me otherwise!!

My personal tastes still run strongly to the more exciting spy vs. spy novels or the detectives who have smoking hot UST and/or All The Feels, but if you like cozies this is definitely a winner. And it's currently on KU.
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enjoyed reading Josh Lanyon’s new cosy mystery. We are introduced to new bookshop owner, Ellery, and police chief, Jack Carson, who feature as the central characters in this murder mystery and we witness the sparks of attraction as these two begin their romantic journey. We also get to meet a host of interesting characters who dwell in this quaint town. The set-up reminded me of a sweeter version of the Adrien English series, although there isn’t quite the same antagonism between bookseller and cop. There are several suspense-filled scenes but nothing too scary or gruesome as befits the cosy mystery genre.

I always enjoy Josh’s writing style and narrative techniques, and this made for entertaining reading. I’m pleased to say I worked out the mystery but only shortly before our amatueur sleuth did. There are plenty of possible suspects that Ellery (and Jack) need to investigate. I liked the tension that builds up when Ellery is considered the chief suspect and he needs to ‘prove’ his innocence.

I’m looking forward to reading more titles in this series and seeing how the romance blossoms between Ellery and Jack. I’m hoping they will be solving another murder mystery together.
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If you love Cozy Mysteries, Murder at Pirate's Cove will hook you from the start. It's a textbook example of the genre and so wonderful for it. Don't miss the start of this delightful series.
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If you’re looking for an escapist read of the mildly murderous variety, this cozy mystery might be a perfect choice.

Ellery Page moved to the tiny village of Pirate’s Cove after inheriting a bookstore (focused on mystery fiction, of course) and mansion from a great aunt he never met. The house is a wreck and the bookstore losing money, but that’s nothing compared to the trouble that descends when Ellery finds a body in the store after closing one evening. Given that the murdered man was pushing Ellery to sell the bookstore to him, Ellery of course becomes a chief suspect. What other choice does Ellery have but to figure out who the killer is and clear his good name? It’s not like he can trust a bunch of small-town cops to find the real murderer.

So, with that setup, this is obviously a very traditional cozy mystery. We’ve got a shop owner turned amateur sleuth in a small town full of colorful characters, which is textbook for cozies. There’s no sex or violence, minimal swearing, and just a hint of a potential romance with the extremely attractive chief of police. I’m sure that romance will grow, though. After all, Ellery is going to need a contact in the police department, because he will surely be stumbling over another unfortunately deceased resident of Pirate’s Cove sometime soon . . . 😊

Fans of cozy mysteries should check this one out. I’m looking forward to the next in the series.

A copy of this book was provided through NetGalley for review; all opinions expressed are my own.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I haven't read a cozy mystery in a long time, and this one was sweet and pleasant (and also murdery, yes). I thought the writing was excellent, the mystery was well done and kept me guessing for much of the book. The characters are *just* complex enough to not be boring but are still people I want to read more about. I look forward to the next book in the series.
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I would like to thank Secrets and Scrabble 1 for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley. Although they had to approve my request to review, the decision to read this book is my choice and any reviews given are obligation free.

Another book I read this week, rather than last year. It’s amazing how much reading you can get done during school holidays when your house is in self-isolation!

Okay, I have mixed feelings about ‘Murder at Pirate’s Cove’. I wanted to read it as I’d heard nothing but good things about the author, so when I saw a book by her on Netgalley, I was curious to read it. It’s a cosy set in small town America – frequent readers of my review know this is a favourite genre of mine. Plus there is a hint of romance, without it getting in the way of the whodunit. Finally, I’m not narrow minded, and so don’t mind a cosy crime/ romance where the protagonist and their love interest are of the same gender.

And, happily, ‘Murder at Pirate’s Cove’ ticked all those boxes. However, it still almost became the next victim of my “did not finish” pile. And, being honest here, the only reason I kept reading is that my Netgalley stats are pretty terrible right now, due to my near two year absence, and I didn’t want to ruin them further with another DNF.

And BOY am I glad I kept reading! As I actually ended up enjoying it enough to want to see what happens in the next book in the series. So I apologise for doubting it!

The two main things that put me off were the overall tone of the book, and the poor editing. And I really shouldn’t pick on the poor editing as I received an ARC, not a final print, and so clangers and editorial mishaps can happen. I just really do hope the copy editor has gone over it again with a fine tooth comb before it was published, as there is some really sloppy editing in places, sorry.

As for the tone… It just wasn’t a style I liked. It was, to me, more a YA/ NA style of prose than I was expecting in an “adult” book. Not that is was “adult” in a rating sense, more that I felt it was a more adult setting than the late teen/ young adult tone I felt came across. So, if you look at the two reasons I wasn’t always thrilled with the book, you can clearly see that both faults lay with me, the reviewer, and not the book or author at all!

All the same, I wanted to give ‘Murder at Pirate’s Cove’ a 4 out of 5 rating, but just couldn’t bring myself to doing so, based on what I read. Perhaps the final print is sharper, less immature in tone, much better edited, and so everything I’m saying it obsolete… and gosh I hope so, as I found it – besides all that – an enjoyable read.

Although the protagonist did come across as a little whiny at times, it was well within character and somehow made him more endearing to me as the reader. The setting was interesting  - I’ve not read a cosy in an old pirate village before – the characters were, for the most, endearing, and it was all in all an enjoyable day or so of reading. Sadly, I also figured out the whodunit fairly early on, and didn’t feel there were enough red herrings to keep me second guessing myself. I feel this added to the YA/NA feel I got off the book. 

So, you can see, I had a bit of love hate relationship with ‘Murder at Pirate’s Cove’, but overall I enjoyed it and am giving it a thumb’s up.

From the book nerd side, you’ve basically heard the worst… it needed editing. But, I feel I need to emphasise again that I received an Advanced Reader Copy, and they are usually unfinished proofs, and so bad editing happens. No biggie. The formatting and layout, however, were more finished and I feel this saved this book another star. ;-)

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. And, yes I would also mention the minor issues I had with this book, but I would still recommend it as an entertaining first book in a potentially good cosy crime series.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I might. I mean, I DO want to read the next book in the series, when it comes out. But I’m undecided if I’d only want to read it if I got it as a free ARC or found it online as a library book, rather than buy it. Not that it’s priced unreasonably on Amazon Australia, it’s a VERY reasonable price. 

I enjoyed the book, but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected I would. Perhaps I was a little blinkered by all the praise I’d heard about Ms Lanyon, and for some reason expected more? Who knows? But any faults I found in it really were down to the reader, not the book or author.

In summary: An interesting first book in a seaside cosy crime series that has potential to be amazing.
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