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

Secrets and Scrabble 1

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 29 Feb 2020 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2020

Talking about this book? Use #MurderatPiratesCoveAnMMCozyMystery #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


First in a new series!  


Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion, and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, is ready to make a change. So when he learns he’s inherited both a failing bookshop and a falling-down mansion in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove in Rhode Island, it’s full steam ahead!  

Sure enough, the village is charming, its residents amusingly eccentric, and widowed police chief Jack Carson is decidedly yummy (though possibly as straight as he is stern). However, the bookstore is failing, the mansion is falling down, and there’s that little drawback of finding rival bookseller—and head of the unwelcoming-committee—Trevor Maples dead during the annual Buccaneer Days celebration.  

Still, it could be worse. And once Police Chief Carson learns Trevor was killed with the cutlass hanging over the door of Ellery’s bookstore, it is. 


First in a new series!  


Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion, and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, is ready to make a change. So when he learns he’s...

A Note From the Publisher

Dear Reader,
Welcome to Pirate’s Cove, where dark secrets lie buried in pretty window boxes and the cobbled streets run red with blood. JUST KIDDING. Murder at Pirate’s Cove is the first book in the new M/M cozy mystery series Secrets and Scrabble. As with all cozy mysteries, there is no on-screen violence or sex.

Dear Reader,
Welcome to Pirate’s Cove, where dark secrets lie buried in pretty window boxes and the cobbled streets run red with blood. JUST KIDDING. Murder at Pirate’s Cove is the first book in the...

Available Editions

ISBN 9781945802614
PRICE $4.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

Send to Kindle (EPUB)
Download (EPUB)

Average rating from 71 members

Featured Reviews

Murder at Pirate's Cove is the first book in a new cozy mystery series by Josh Lanyon. Released 29th Feb 2020, it's 206 pages and is available in ebook format. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is a formulaic but really fun and enjoyable cozy. Handsome newcomer Ellery has inherited a mystery bookstore and white elephant of a house which is falling down around his ears. He's single with a bad breakup behind him and just trying to keep the floundering bookshop afloat and make a new start in the tourist town of Pirate's Cove. The last thing he needs is a dead body in his place of business, or a potential entanglement with the town's handsome lawman.

The deceased was unloved by basically everyone and there are tons of secrets and hidden motives.

All the violence is off-scene, the language is clean (a few damns, nothing worse), the romance is slow burn and chaste. The denouement was fair-play (though I had figured it out a while before), and the whole combines into a fast and fun read. I'm looking forward to finding out what comes next.

Four stars. Recommended for fans of bookstore cozy mysteries.

Was this review helpful?

What a cute start! Very light on the romance, but I’m beginning to notice that Lanyon uses the first book more as an introduction. However, it wasn’t lacking without it! I really enjoyed Ellery and the town of Pirates Cove. There’s a great cast of different characters each with a unique and interesting voice. The mystery was well done too, and I only figured it out right as Ellery did. I’m looking forward to more in the series!

Was this review helpful?

4* Classy, intelligent and unassuming. Shades of Miss Marple make for a great read on a rainy day in London.

This tale needed no major intro, though the leads and the location were unknown to me; it was really quick and easy to get into, and part of that, I think, was anticipation of a new release from this author. It seems to be the first in a series of low-key but intelligent and well-done mysteries featuring Ellery Page (lol, the name Queen kept popping into my head), forced bookshop owner and forced owner of a decrepit mansion in Pirates Cove, and the chief of police, Jack Carson, who may or may not be married and who may or may not be bi.

Strangely for me, I went into this tale not particularly bothered about how full-on any romance might be, as Josh Lanyon's MO of delivering a decent tale first and foremost, with romance as an added bonus, works for me. I knew there would be a relationship of sorts building here, and its pace and what it entailed or not and where it ended up or not, took a back seat to the actual storyline. I know I'm going to enjoy seeing these leads build whatever it is they end up building.

The book, for me, had a feel of Miss Marple and a perfect English village, though the tale was set in a small town (do they actually have villages in the US?) in Rhode Island. Everything about the tale was quaint and understated, even down to the murders, and it was that air of the understated that added interest and made me desperate enough to get to the end of this book that I ended up reading it on my phone on the treadmill, without managing to fall off, rather than take a break. There was at times a feel of deja vu and there were a few skips in the leads' relationship that, at 92% of the tale gone, made me go back and check if I'd inadvertently skipped some of the tale (I think we're meant to read a little between the lines), which it turns out I hadn't. Maybe heated glances, knowing looks and what's left unsaid, speak volumes that my impatient eyes and brain didn't quite pick up on (which is totally on me).

There are a bunch of decent characters in it, whom I'd like to know more about: Dylan, perhaps the first friend that Ellery, the newcomer to PICO, made, and who may have a skeleton or few in his closet (or might that be closets?); Jack Carter and his tragic past that's been hinted at; Nora, Ellery's new employee and local gossip monger (in a sweet little-old-lady package) who's promised to turn over a new leaf; and the rest of the locals who hopefully will learn to like Ellery, rather than cross the street to avoid him and his bad karma.

I thought that Ellery was a less uptight lead of Josh Lanyon's, one without too much baggage and one with a better ability to trust and to open himself up, which made for a nice change and a more relaxed feel to this tale. I loved the scenes with him and little Watson (a Josh Lanyon pun, I wonder?) and can't wait to see what they get up to together. I wouldn't change much of the tale, other than maybe not having characters in such a small pond with similar sounding names or names starting with the same letter (e.g. Nora and her niece, Nan; Carter and Carson) as this makes for slight WTF moments when my brain transposes things and I have to backtrack and make sure I've read correctly. Other than that, this was a read that ticked all my boxes, and I enjoyed this low-key, not overly/not unnecessarily complicated tale and am very glad that book 2 is only a month away!

ARC courtesy of JustJoshin Publishing Inc and NetGalley, for my reading pleasure.

Was this review helpful?

A quaint seaside town with picturesque streets, adorably-named shops, and pirate-themed celebrations…Pirate’s Cove is practically made for a postcard. It’s exactly the kind of change New York screenwriter Ellery Page needs. Well, it was until a dead body shows up in his newly-inherited bookstore. Ellery is having a hard enough time saving the failing bookstore and trying to keep the crumbling mansion he’s also inherited from falling down around his ears, so being accused of murder is almost enough to make him want to run screaming back to the city. If he wants to make a go of it in Pirate’s Cove, Ellery will need to think like the detectives in the books he sells and – much to the consternation of handsome the police chief Jack Carson – discover who is trying to frame him before time runs out.

Murder at Pirate’s Cove is a delightful cozy mystery with interesting characters and a quirky town I can’t wait come back to. I admit, cozy mysteries aren’t my usual fare but I love Josh Lanyon’s writing so of course I wanted to give this a try. I’m so glad I did, for this book was a fast-paced, fun, and completely addictive.

Ellery isn’t a detective – heck, he doesn’t even read mysteries – but when someone’s trying to frame you for murder, you (at least in fiction) put on your deerstalker cap and get to work. Ellery has a bright, engaging personality that drew me in even when he’s at his most exhausted and frustrated. He’s also readers’ entree into the world of Pirate’s Cove with its cleverly named stores and gossipy residents. I enjoyed the bits of Pirate’s Cove that were introduced in this story and I cannot wait to learn more as the Secrets and Scrabble series goes on. The most intriguing character in Pirate’s Cove is its police chief, Jack Carson. We only get a taste of the real man behind the badge in this story, but oh, what a deliciously intriguing taste it is. There’s no romance in Murder at Pirate’s Cove, but the energy fairly crackles between Ellery and Jack and I can’t wait for the promise of what’s to come.

The question of who murdered the rather unlikable Trevor Maples is at the center of the story and the mystery itself is wholly engaging. I loved watching Ellery put everything together and Ms. Lanyon keeps the twists coming while still making it believable. Since this is a cozy mystery there is no on-page violence or sex, but even to a non-cozy reader like myself the book isn’t missing anything from the lack of it. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Murder at Pirate’s Cove and I cannot wait to learn more about Ellery, Jack, and the residents of Pirate’s Cove!

Was this review helpful?

I think this is an excellent cozy mystery with all my favorite tropes of a cozy: a bookstore, small town and a pet (a puppy in this case) and an old lady that helps the MC.
We are used to cozy mystery featuring a female MC but I must say that Ellery is a likeable, interesting and funny character, well thought and somewhat clumsy.
I love him as much as I loved the fleshed out and likeable cast of characters.
The mystery is solid, full of twists and turns, and the solution came as a surprise.
After reading this story and loving it i already preordered the next instalment.
It was an engrossing and fun read, I read in two setting and found it very enjoyable.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

Was this review helpful?

A fast pasted cozy mystery comes about when Ellery moves from New York to the small town of Pirate's Cove where he inherited an old mansion and a book store from his great great great aunt. When real estate mogul Trevor is found killed in Ellery's book store he is the prime suspect of Chief of Police Jack Carson - and, slayed by the local news paper, of the whole town.
What else is left for Ellery to do but investigate himself to proof his innocence, much to the chagrin of the police chief.
This small town murder mystery was a delightful read with just a hint of romance thrown in. While categorized as M/M book, there really was not much intimate interaction - as in none, actually. Ellery wasn't even sure if Jack was romantically interested in other men.
I enjoyed the book for the very likeable, humble and even tempered Ellery and interesting supporting characters.
Highly recommended for an easy, feel-good read.

Was this review helpful?

Murder at Pirate's Cove is a cozy mystery that follows our main character Ellery Page who has inherited a failing bookstore and a somewhat crumbling mansion, both located in the seaside village of Pirate's Cove. Ellery, who is determined to make a fresh start in his life after a particularly bad break-up in New York, takes on the challenge of turning the bookstore into a profitable venture.

One night on his way home from dinner, he notices a light on in his bookstore. When he stops to investigate, he discovers a dead body on the floor, and, as it so happens, the victim, Trevor Maples, is a man with whom Ellery had been arguing only hours earlier at his store as witnesses can attest.

The handsome yet gruff police chief Jack Carson investigates and doesn't hesitate to let Ellery know that he is the prime suspect in the case. Even though Ellery isn't a detective, he takes it upon himself to investigate Trevor's murder in order to prove his innocence, much to the chagrin of Chief Carson. The task proves more difficult than first Ellery first imagined given that pretty much everyone in Pirate's Cove disliked Trevor, and many of the residents have their own secrets, hidden motives, and reasons for wanting the man dead.

I typically don't read Cozy Mysteries as they aren't my favorite genre, but given that I tend to enjoy this author's work, I wanted to check it out — and I'm so glad I did. This story was not only fun but also gripping and kept me turning the page until the big reveal at the end.

The story is populated with delightfully eccentric and zany characters/suspects that made reading this so much fun. I especially loved Ellery's character and found him to be much more relaxed and less stuffy than some of the characters in the author's other mysteries (Adrian English comes to mind). Though certainly impulsive and flawed, I found Ellery to be relatable and endearing as well, and going through the same struggles as many of us are. I found Ellery to be a breath of fresh air.

As this is a Cozy Mystery, there is no violence or sex on-page, so this is a perfect book for those who don't like their mysteries too gory or too sexy. And though Lanyon typically writes M/M Romance, you won't find much of that here. However, there is a heated energy between Ellery and Jack, hinting at the budding of a potential relationship in future books. But any attraction between the two characters takes a back seat to the main plotline of who murdered Trevor Maples.

All in all, I found Murder at Pirate's Cove to be a delightful and well-crafted mystery that kept me guessing until the end. What an unexpected gem this turned out to be! It was so much fun solving this mystery along with Ellery and Jack, and the excellent writing makes for a seamless reading experience. There's just enough tension and drama to bring the story home to a pretty compelling and satisfying conclusion, and I look forward to reading future books in this series.

Was this review helpful?

CHARMING. That's the word that keeps popping to mind in reading this first book in Josh Lanyon's new cozy mystery series. We meet Ellery Page, brought to a small seaside town due to an unexpected inheritance he received from his great-great-great aunt Eudora. He's now the opener of a dilipated house and bookstore, the Crow's Nest, in Pirate's Cove, Rhode Island.

When a body is found in the Crow's Nest, Ellery is understandably horrified to learn he is Police Chief Jack Carson's prime suspect. This is a cozy mystery - so by definition there is no gore and no sex - but Lanyon gives us a wonderfully tantalizing character in Police Chief Jack Carson:

"a ruggedly handsome six foot, one hundred and ninety-plus pounds of gainfully employed eligible male ... [Ellery] had been pretty sure Carson had a secret that would deeply disappoint the ladies of Pirate's Cove."

We are introduced to the community and its residents on the way to solving the crimes, along with some well-crafted red herrings, and I did not figure out the murderer until near the end, so it definitely held my interest. Ellery is an interesting character and I relish learning more about him and also really like how Lanyon teases the possibility of a romance between Jack Carson and Ellery.

I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book in the series, "Secret at Skull House", due at the end of March. 4.5 stars.

Was this review helpful?

I am a huge fan of Josh Lanyon’s work and a fan of cozy mysteries, though I’ve never read one with a gay protagonist. As a result, I was interested to see what Lanyon entering this genre would be like. No surprise, it’s an unqualified success!

Cozy mysteries, like most genres have specific requirements in order to qualify for the label. As such, there is no on-page violence or sex. And while there may be romance it is a distant second place to the main purpose, the murder mystery. That may be a bit of a shock for Lanyon’s regular fans but rest assured, her usual character driven storytelling works well in this genre and you will appreciate the storytelling. (Unless a lack of violence and sex doesn’t do it for you…then you may want to move along!)

The protagonist of this first book in a series is Ellery Page, who has inherited a failing mystery bookstore and a dilapidated mansion in the small town of Pirate’s Cove, RI from a great-great-great aunt that he knew nothing about. He discovers the body of a town resident, who has been harassing him to sell the bookstore to him, and of course becomes a suspect. Enter the hunky widowed police chief Jack Carson who of course considers Ellery a prime suspect. There is a subtle undertone of potential romance here, but it appears we are destined for a truly slow burn.

The secondary characters are at turns irritating and amusing and Lanyon is establishing an interesting cast of characters for her series. The mystery is intriguing, and the red herrings are deftly done. Like any good cozy the hints are there to the resolution and I did figure it out prior to the on-page reveal…which it seems to me most cozy mysteries want the reader to be able to do. It lends a bit more tension to the read as you anticipate what is going to happen to the protagonist before all is revealed.

I really enjoyed the creation of the setting, the use of the Scrabble device, the spunky Nora, and of course the cute puppy! Looking forward to the next book in the series!

*I voluntarily read an ARC and this is my objective review *

Was this review helpful?

Loved it... and I'm definitely going to read the sequel.

Cozies are interesting as a genre. They are a great pleasure to read, and this one certainly was, but they don't stick in the mind much afterwards! I loved the light tone of this and even though it was a "slight" book, I'm sure it took much effort on the author's part.

A few jarring things: I thought the "great-great-great aunt Eudora" concept was kind of hard to swallow; I just don't see how the narrator could have been alive at the same time as his third great aunt. I also didn't like that one character got killed off-stage; that wasn't very satisfying. And there were some scene breaks missing in my ARC.

But I loved the verve of the prose, Ellery's charm, the gossipy bookstore assistant Nora, and police chief Jack Carson's mixture warmth and gruffness. The series holds a lot of promise. And for a book that must have been written quickly, it was done with a lot of skill. Thanks for the ARC!

Was this review helpful?

Delivers exactly what it promises, a perfect cozy mystery!

This is actually my favorite Josh Lanyon book so far. I was hooked immediately by the quaint setting full of quirky (but not too quirky and clichéd) characters that I can't wait to see more of. The romance between Ellery and Jack is subtle and sweet, and I loved that Ellery gets the time to move on from the relationship that caused him to move to the small village and didn't just jump into bed with the first guy he met. The mystery was also well done and tightly plotted.

There was never a boring moment, and I immensely enjoyed this first book in a new series.

Was this review helpful?

I wanna move to Pirate's Cove. Simply for the delight of meeting Ellery. What a lovely name. It just rolls right off the tongue. Ellery... Elle.. Er... Rrrry...

My god Josh Lanyon is back! Well, she never left but she has stopped rushing endings. I still haven't forgiven (Ok, I totally have) the news clipping resolution in Slay Ride. But what a delight this book is! A piping hot cup of comfort tea... A warm hug from a teddy bear... A kiss on the forehead... I am such a pile of goo. Yes from a murder mystery where 2.5 people died.

Ellery Page moves to Pirate Cove after inheriting a book store and a cool castle from a great great great great aunt Eudora. An old eccentric he didn't even know existed until the opportune time. After his ex cheats on him, and his acting career fades like my attention when I see a kitten he decides to take on the timely escape provided by great great great aunt Eudoras.

Things aren't smooth sailing. The house is in need of endless repairs and the bookshop is in the red. I actually don't really get what that is but I know it's commerce speak for the business is broke?? (I got a D in econ). Ellery is facing pressure from a mayoral election candidate local wannabe Drumpf but he won't sell. He won't give up his new reason to live so easily. And soon enough, after he finds a dead body in the bookshop, he can't sell anyway.

Ellery is thrust into a world of intrigue, mayhem and amateur investigations when he finds out that "Murder seems like something that happens to other people" is a belief best left to people who don't find dead bodies in their shops.

This book is so charming. I was getting my hair done as I was reading it and Lanyon's witticisms gave me such a severe case of the smiles my hairdresser had to wonder whether she wasn't yanking my scalp hard enough (trust me, box braids are a pain). But I was in no pain. How could I when the endorphins were being released by such lines:

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.

I'm displeased that the sequel will take so long to come (It's coming in March) and as we all know, Lanyon's series always leave you panting and pining for more. This book is very formulaic of a Lanyon book. It is also a very subliminal ad for Lanyon's other books. I can't tell whether it was so genius it was unwittingly deliberate but I don't care. This book reminded me of Adrien, perhaps because of how aggressively lovable Ellery is.

Ugh, just read the book.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this! Cozy mysteries are some of my favorite stories, stemming back to reading Nancy Drew when I was young. They are so comforting for me. I actually have considered a few of Lanyon’s stories to be cozy mysteries prior to this story. She is one of my favorite writers because of how well she writes these mysteries that wrap me up and take me away. These types of stories are the reason why I enjoy reading so much to this day.

This was a fast paced story that takes place in the charming town of Pirate’s Cove. Ellery has inherited his great great great great (is that enough greats?) Aunt Eudora’s old mansion and book store. He has never run a book store before and doesn’t even read mysteries, which is what the Crow’s Nest sells. He needed a change and this opportunity presented itself at the perfect time. After about 3 months he is feeling a bit despondent since the mansion is going to need a ton of work and the bookstore is on the verge of bankruptcy. One of the towns residents wants to buy the bookstore but Ellery does not want to sell it. Trouble ensues for Ellery when this resident is found murdered in the bookstore.

Being a cozy mystery there is no romance or sex but Chief Carson intrigues Ellery and there may be a mutual attraction there, except for the fact that Carson thinks Ellery is the main suspect in the murder. Ellery decides he needs to do a bit of sleuthing himself before he is wrongly arrested for this murder.

I am happy there will be another book in this series. There is so much potential for more trouble to find Ellery and it seems as though the town of Pirate’s Cove will have a few more mysteries to solve!

Was this review helpful?

A cozy mystery with all the right ingredients! Quirky protagonist - check, slow burn love interest - check, well developed setting with side characters who are far from the norm - check, a who-done-it mystery with fun twists and turns - double check!

Ellery decides to leave the crazy life of living in NYC behind him when his many-times-great aunt leaves him her failing mystery bookshop and crumbling manor in the small town of Pirates Cove. The opportunity came just as he reached a painful crossroad in his life, and the chance at a fresh start seemed like a godsend. He knows that the LBGTQ community is tiny, but that doesn't stop him from a bit of wishful thinking. However, despite long hours and all the money he inherited that has been invested in refurbishing the bookshop, it is still failing -- and unwanted offers to purchase it from him keep pestering him. And then the biggest pest, the wealthy one that refuses to take no for an answer, is found dead in the shop. Killed by the cutlass that prominently hangs above the shop's door. Discovered by none other than Ellery. Even the Bobsy Twins could tell you that the circumstances don't look good for him. Especially since his secret crush, Police Chief Jack Carson, has had to move Ellery to the top of the suspects list.

This was a wonderful reality escape for me. No gratuitous blood, politics, or language. There were wonderful pop culture references of the past and present that add to the humor. And who could resist a puppy sidekick named Watson?

Highly recommended for fans of "Murder She Wrote" and books by Joanne Fluke, Laura Childs, and Stephen E. Stanley.

* Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of the book in return for an honest review. *

Was this review helpful?

This is the start of the Secrets and Scrabble Series. This was a wonderful cozy mystery. I really enjoyed the quirky town it was set in. The characters were interesting and the pace was great. I can’t wait for the next installment of the series.

Was this review helpful?

Ellery has inherited a whole lot more than he bargained for. Yes, it appears to be a failing bookshop the Crow's Nest and a dilapidated mansion nestled in a lovely seaside village. Why would anyone want to pressure poor Ellery to sell his somewhat sad Inheritance from Great-great-great Aunt Endora? The bookshop is floundering and Ellery cannot keep up with repairs to his new home. Trevor Maples is offering way more than they are worth and is rather nasty and secretive as to why he wants what appears to be a ridiculous investment. Ellery is a stubborn man and won't consider the offer. Now add Trevor getting murdered in Ellery's book store and we are off to an interesting start.

This book is a cozy mystery that delivers in spades. The author did a fabulous job in describing the quaint countryside and it's quirky residents. The mystery component was excellent and had me guessing right up until the end. This book does not have the strong romantic undertones Ms. Lanyon's other series usually contain but the plot was so well constructed, it really wasn't missed. You still feel the gentle pull between the widowed Police Chief Jack Carson and the harrassed book seller. You just know something will develop between this two hopefully in the near future.

More murders and additional attemps to frame Ellery had me riveted to the pages. I highly recommend this amazing mystery and eagerly await the next installment. Happy Reading.

Was this review helpful?

Murder at Pirate’s Cove is the first book in a new series of cozy mysteries by Josh Lanyon – a kind of Adrien English meets Jessica Fletcher if you will! All the ingredients of the genre are there – a small village community, eccentric characters, dastardly doings and an intrepid hero; in this case one who ends up at the wrong end of a murder investigation!

Screenwriter Ellery Page left New York and his cheating boyfriend for the small Rhode Island resort town of Pirate’s Cove when he inherited a bequest from his great-great-great aunt Eudora. That bequest consisted of the town’s mystery bookshop, Crow’s Nest, and a rambling (and ramshackle) late-Victorian era house just outside town, and Ellery, feeling the need to make a change, has thrown himself into running the shop and renovating the house. He likes Pirate’s Cove, although he’s still something of an outsider, and is determined to make a go of things there… although three months in, he’s not sure how much longer he’ll be able to afford to stay if business doesn’t start to pick up soon.

Walking back to the shop from the pub late one evening, Ellery is surprised to see the lights are on – and even more surprised to find a dead body – dressed in a pirate costume – lying on the floor. Trevor Maples – a local property developer who was pressuring Ellery to sell Crow’s Nest – was a nasty piece of work, and the fact that he and Ellery were overheard in an altercation on the day Maples died means things don’t look too good for our hero. When the chief of police, Jack Carson (a former LAPD Homicide detective) makes it clear that Ellery is currently the number one suspect, Ellery decides that if the police aren’t looking for the real killer, then he’ll have to find something to persuade them to look elsewhere – and maybe even prove his own innocence. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that someone is actively trying to frame Ellery for the murders – but who, and why?

I’m not really the biggest fan of cozy mysteries – I tend to prefer my mysteries a bit grittier – but I do generally enjoy Josh Lanyon’s work and was keen to see what she’d do with the tropes. Like most genres, there are certain rules to be followed – the stories are usually fairly short with lighter plots, they’re set in a small town or village and the sleuth is often a reluctant amateur who gets him or herself into sticky situations because they’re actually investigating and snooping around rather than just interviewing people! – to name but a few. Ms. Lanyon sticks pretty closely to those rules and turns in a charming story that hooked me in, principally, I think, because Ellery is so completely loveable! Sweet, clever, funny and utterly relatable, he’s a delightful character, and his gentle wit had me smiling often:

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.


“I’d hate to think I’d moved to Cabot Cove by mistake.”

He’s the reader’s route into the community of Pirate’s Cove, with its aptly named shops and fun, colourful characters, but unlike many amateur sleuths, he’s practically clueless about crime shows and mystery novels. He doesn’t let that stop him, however; with someone going all out to frame him – and worse? – he can’t afford to just sit back and wait to be arrested.

The mystery is intriguing and well done, with deft application of red herrings and plenty of clues for the reader to follow, and the author has introduced an intriguing – and sometimes irritating – secondary cast I’m (mostly) looking forward to meeting again. There’s no romance as such in the book, but there’s a definite spark of interest between Ellery and the handsome, widowed police chief Jack Carson and I’m looking forward to watching their relationship develop in future books.

I honestly didn’t expect to find myself enjoying Murder at Pirate’s Cove as much as I did, but it turned out to be fast-paced and fun story – and even a non-fan of cozies like me found plenty to enjoy.

Was this review helpful?

This book was a very enjoyable and swift read! I had reservations if I would like this book despite it being a Josh Lanyon book since I gravitate to mysteries with onscreen violence and sex. But Ellery was a such a delightful, relatable main character who was down-to-earth despite his past career as an actor. Usually the MC's make roll my eyes because of their reckless decision making but, I agreed with Ellery's reasoning for his decisions even when said decisions led to a B&E, haha. (I think my favorite aspect of Ellery is that he is a terrible liar which explained his failure of a career as an actor.) Scenes involving Ellery and his romantic interest Chief Carson sizzled in a will-they-won't-they manner and I am settled in for a slow burn of a relationship between these two as the series continues. The mystery itself was easy to get into and was an excellent vehicle for getting to know the colorful people of Pirate's Cove whom I hope get more screen time in the next book.

I look forward to returning to Pirate's Cove in Secret at Skull House.

Was this review helpful?

It's currently 3:30am and I've just finished this book. This book was so captivating that's I could not put it down once I picked it up.

The plot of the book is filled with mysteries and twists. The ending really shocked me. I loved how the author made it so you found out who the killer was at the same time as the main character. The main character is written so well. I loved the relationship between Carson and Ellery.
One of thing things I loved about this book was how it gave the reader a good understanding of ever main and side character. It really felt like they were people from a real small town community.

This was the sweetest murder mystery I've ever read. This book, of course, gets 5 stars from me.
I think I found my new favourite genre of books!

Was this review helpful?

A charming and enjoyable mystery with a wonderful build up of characters, community and setting: altogether a very promising beginning to a series of more! I'm looking forward to seeing Ellery and the rest of the cast return in the following books.

Was this review helpful?

A cozy mystery, indeed!! I think this is my first cozy mystery—I never even knew this was a genre! I like it!

I REALLY enjoyed this one, even if I figured out who the perp was early on. As always, Lanyon’s writing and characters are a joy for me as a reader.

While I would have enjoyed more romance, I like the slow pace this took and very much look forward to the next books in the series.

**I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.**

Was this review helpful?

I love a good cozy mystery. Murder at Pirate's Cove is billed as a "no on-screen sex or violence" mystery and it means it. So, if you draw a line at smexiness and violence, this is a great read to, well, cozy up to. ;)

Ellery was totally out of his element. He had inherited a mystery book store and crumbling, eclectic, mausoleum-ish house from a distant relative he didn't even know. He was looking for a fresh start, but he may not have thought his game plan through... or maybe not at all. Especially considering that his fresh start was in a small close-knit community that wasn't so much welcoming as they were intent on pushing him out. At least that's how it felt. Once the murder(s) started happening, he considered cutting his losses, but first he had to prove his innocence.

Murder at Pirate's Cove was a great intro to this series. It had witty, eccentric characters, a sweet budding romance and a mystery that kept you guessing. A lot of danger in a small town, but that's usually how cozy mysteries go. Secret at Skull House is next and I can't wait to see what trouble Ellery finds himself in next.

Was this review helpful?

Murder at Pirate's Cove is the first book in the Secrets and Scrabble series by Josh Lanyon. Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion, and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, is ready to make a change. So when he learns he’s inherited both a failing bookshop and a falling-down mansion in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove in Rhode Island, it’s full steam ahead! Sure enough, the village is charming, its residents amusingly eccentric, and widowed police chief Jack Carson is decidedly yummy (though possibly as straight as he is stern). However, the bookstore is failing, the mansion is falling down, and there’s that little drawback of finding rival bookseller—and head of the unwelcoming-committee—Trevor Maples dead during the annual Buccaneer Days celebration. Still, it could be worse. And once Police Chief Carson learns Trevor was killed with the cutlass hanging over the door of Ellery’s bookstore, it is.

Murder at Pirate's Cove is a cozy mystery that grabbed me from the start. I liked Ellery as a character, he is smart and thoughtful with a curious mind and the ability to admit his mistakes. I did think the blurb was a little misleading, since he is a Scrabble player but that only plays a minimal role in the story, although I think it will mean more as the series continues. I liked the set up, and thought the characters and town building was well paced and well done. The mystery was layered with plenty of twists, and I liked the way it was built and revealed in small portions to keep interest and attention. I did not want to step away from the book at any point during the read, wanting to see how things would play out in the next moment. I am interested to see where the series goes from here, and if the promised connections continue to grow in the future.

Murder at Pirate's Cove is an engaging read and I look forward to continuing the series.

Was this review helpful?

When I saw that Josh Lanyon had started a cozy mystery series, I was both intrigued and excited. Having enjoyed everything I’ve read of hers, I felt confident she was going to knock it out of the park, but my experience with the genre is admittedly limited. In fact, before reading this one, I had only read one other cozy—Cat Sebastian’s Hither, Page (which was delightful). In other words, enough to know I wanted to read more, but not enough to have a true framework for critique or comparison. However, I do know a good story, and I know what I like, and Lanyon’s Murder at Pirate’s Cove was an absolute treat. I mean, what’s not to love about a Scrabble-loving bookstore owner, a grumpy cop, and a quirky small town with secrets, right? It was engrossing and tons of fun from start to finish.

Ellery Page didn’t know his Great-great-great Aunt Eudora at all, which made it all the more inexplicable when she left him her house and her bookshop. But, inexplicable or not, Ellery needs a reason to get out of New York, and accepting his new home and business and moving to the small town of Pirate’s Cove seems like the perfect move. What he didn’t know was that the house had been neglected so badly it should quite possibly be condemned, and the bookstore, which wasn’t exactly a moneymaker, was badly in need of some repairs itself. And, if the fact that he’s gone deep into his savings trying to renovate the house and the shop isn’t bad enough—not to mention he knows nothing about selling mystery books—now there’s a dead body in the store, and he is his only alibi. This passage was the perfect summary of poor Ellery’s situation.

This was unbelievable. All of it. The fact that Trevor would be murdered. The fact that Ellery would be suspected of that murder. It was like a book. Like a book he sold in a shop he had inherited from an eccentric aunt he’d never even known existed until she died and left him this crazy house in a crazy town where people dressed up like pirates and got themselves murdered in other people’s bookshops.

Was he dreaming?
There was so much to enjoy in this book. You get all the great elements of a cozy, expertly woven together by Lanyon. Small town; good, twisty mystery; great characters, many of whom are just that…characters; and an endearing, amateur sleuth in Ellery. I loved the names of all the places and shops in the town. I adored Ellery, and, though we haven’t gotten to know Jack as well yet, I quite liked him too. The few descriptions of him in the book were epic. I loved this:

He wore a wedding ring—he might even be married—but from the moment Ellery’s gaze had first tangled with the police chief’s piercing green-blue one, he had been pretty sure Carson had a secret that would deeply disappoint the ladies of Pirate’s Cove.
Ellery spends the entire book desperately trying to prove his own innocence as the evidence and bodies pile up, and his aforementioned sleuthing aggravates Jack to no end. To Jack’s credit though, he believes in Ellery’s innocence, and always comes through in the clutch. In his own grumpy way. 😉

I absolutely recommend this one, guys! I can’t wait to visit Pirate’s Cove again and get to know the characters better—especially Jack, and Ellery’s employee Nora, who is completely fabulous—and, of course, see what other messes Ellery gets himself into. So, Much. Fun. Go check it out!

Was this review helpful?

Screenwriter Ellery Page has inherited his great-greataunt's mystery bookshop, the Crow's Nest, and crumbling estate in idyllic Pirate's Cove--where everything is a pun on the historical founders of the town. It's a big change from NYC, where he was floundering after his boyfriend left--taking their mutual friends with him. What seems to be a great chance at a fresh start is really just a step away from misfortune, as the bookshop had hardly any customers, and his home, Captain's Seat, which was maybe built form the timbers of an old pirate vessel, is very aptly called a death trap.

Ellery is making the best of it, and he's frustrated by the persistence of a motivated buyer for the bookshop, Trevor Maples. Trevor has been land-grabbing all he could in Pirate's Cove, hoping increased tourism might help him turn a profit. He's also up for mayor, and his bullish ways haven't made Trevor many friends in town. Ellery isn't willing to kowtow to a bully, but he's suspect number one when Trevor Maples ends up dead on the floor of the Crow's Nest the very evening after Ellery was overheard to vehemently promise to never sell.

An outsider in the town, Ellery's sure Police Chief Carson will make 1 + 1 = Ellery's arrest, adn the local paper is surely hounding both Ellery and Carson over the fact that Ellery isn't immediately taken into custody. Fact is, the chief has seen Ellery having a meal in a pub minutes before the body was Ellery. And as the evidence keeps getting seems ever more likely that Ellery is being set up as a patsy. Ellery's unwilling to get railroaded, however, and starts investigating a bit on his own. Which only brings him more confrontation. Especially when the second murder happens.

This is a really intriguing cozy mystery, with just a HINT of a budding romance. Ellery and Chief Carson are developing quite a nice rapport, even if Ellery's not sure the lawman bats for his team. Well, until more than halfway in. Carson is a good investigator, and he's frustrated that Ellery keeps taking daring chances to help prove his own innocence, choices that put Ellery in harm's way more than once. The town and townspeople are as fun and quirky as one might hope, staging their Pirate Days festival that brings few visitors, but lots of gags for the locals.

The end is satisfying, with the red herrings and dead ends all knotted up tightly. It's the beginning of a series, which makes me nervous for more death in this quaint hamlet! But, it also seems to promise a little bit of romance for Ellery, who's finally got his life on track. I adored Ellery and his deadpan narration, with his constant predicaments and hope for just keeping it all together. I'm all in for more of this, hoping we get some Scrabble to go with our secrets.

Was this review helpful?

Rainbows and Sunshine
April 1, 2020

This was such a fun read. I've never read a cozy mystery before but I really enjoyed it.

Ellery is a great character. Everyone in this small town has their own quirks and I liked getting to know them. The mystery is really well done and the end was a total surprise.

This is such a comfort read. I really love a good mystery. And Chief Carson is so mysterious. I can't wait for the next book. Also Watson, Ellery's puppy is adorable!

*ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review

Was this review helpful?

Love it, love it, love it.

This story has everything I love to see in a cozy:
- a slightly snarky amateur sleuth
- a smart and competent police officer
- a well-plotted story
- light on the romance

I want to read the next book in the series now.

Was this review helpful?

Murder at Pirate's Cove is the first in a new series, Secrets and Scrabble, from prolific mystery writer Josh Lanyon.

It's a little different from what I'm used to reading from Lanyon, taking a turn firmly into the cozy genre by ditching the usual steamy scenes she's known for. Lanyon's books cover a broad range on the romance/mystery balance, but this one leans largely on the mystery with just a hint of the romantic subplot.

I've read a good number of Lanyon's previous books, and while there's been a couple of mysteries that missed for me, I'm almost always sold on the characters. Murder at Pirate's Cove is no exception. Ellery is charming and slightly bumbling, and the chemistry between Ellery and Police Chief Carson is subtle and smoothly written. The whole village of Pirate's Cove is painted vividly (especially given the short length of this book) and is populated by quirky and charming locals.

There are lots of fun details in this book, which I'm hoping to see more of in future instalments: especially the village's pirate theme days and the local Scrabble club. I'm looking forward to seeing how Ellery gets on with his mystery bookshop, new puppy and the renovations on his inherited deathtrap of a house.

As much as I've enjoyed Lanyon's books in the past, I really loved seeing her take on a slightly different, cozier genre. I've found her recent novella focused more on the romance angle so this was nice for a bit of change. The only thing I might have liked was for the book to be a little longer to give us more of a chance to get to know all Ellery's new friends and neighbors. Murder at Pirate's Cove is a great start to a new series. I've already pre-ordered my copy of the sequel Secret at Skull House.

It's probably be a great place to get a taste of Lanyon's writing, especially if you're put off by her racier books.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

There is something undeniably comforting about this story. It is warm and creative and the characters are intriguing and flawed but still lovely people.

Was this review helpful?

SUCH a cute cozy. mystery! If you're a fan of Josh Lanyon, this is a departure from her normal more "explicit" fare, but it's still quite an enjoyable venture into new territory. I'll admit that it's a bit rocky (similar to the first book in her magic series, if you've read that one), in that she hasn't quite found her comfort level in this genre. But all the moving parts are there, from the quaint seaside setting, to the small town characters that litter the pages. Just enough romance to keep you waiting for the next one. ALl in all an excellent start!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book to review.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: