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Death by the Sea by Kathleen Bridge

Death by the Sea

by Kathleen Bridge

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Liz Holt is a successful author who returned to her childhood home in Florida because of a scandal in New York, one that left her face scarred and her person ostracized from literary circles. But all is not well at the Indialantic Hotel by the Sea; first she is introduced to Ryan Stone - a New York firefighter who apparently detests her at first glance and is there to help his grandfather with his delicatessen inside the Indialantic Emporium.

Then a guest of the hotel, Regina Harrington-Worth, is found dead in her hotel room. Luckily Liz, her father, aunt, Ryan and a few others were together at the time of death and can vouch for each other; but it's apparent that someone at the hotel or one of it's shops is the guilty party. While Liz detested the woman, she didn't wish her dead, but there are enough people around who did. So which one killed her? She knows it has to be someone at the hotel, so decides to do a little investigating of her own before the hotel's reputation is ruined forever...

While this book was an okay read, there were things that bothered me. Let's be honest, shall we? Liz states she was ostracized by the literary community for something that occurred between her and her ex-boyfriend, also a writer, that left her with a permanent scar on her face. We have no idea what this is, since the author didn't see fit to tell us. Oh, please. If the literary community didn't ostracize many other authors for scandals (including murder) then what did she do to have this happen? There have been plenty of literary scandals dating back decades ago; plus she was acquitted of any wrongdoing - and it's unfair to the reader not to give the details so we can judge for ourselves if we think it was ostracize-worthy.

Which brings us to Ryan, who has nothing but disdain for Liz for the "supposed scandal" he knows nothing about (welcome to the club, Ryan!) He rushes to take the side of the man involved without actually having been at the trial or knowing the details but merely accepts it because of the other person being a man whose book he read (then tries to get out of it later by using the bro-code, which just doesn't fly). He just assumes she's guilty and starts calling her Princess (which is what her ex called her) to make digs at her; this tells me he's a louse at heart. He doesn't even want to know the truth or he would have taken the time to learn it. A good man wouldn't have made assumptions and we're supposed to believe he 'reforms' after spending time with her?

Then we have an eighty-year-old woman (Great Aunt Amelia) who practically gambols around a hotel merrily (not to mention allowing a guest to verbally attack her niece without saying a word in defense). Amelia comes off as practically having dementia. She's living in the past of her youth, watching old television shows she was on, talking about them constantly. She just can't move on to the present. I seriously doubt if retired actors sit around and talk about their old films/TV shows or even watch them. I doubt if they spew the content to anyone who will listen. And hasn't everyone who knows Amelia already heard every single story? She seems to have been a prolific actress but not a very good one if she couldn't land a permanent role. She needs to get a grip. I think she's supposed to be eccentric, but just comes off as pathetic. I didn't find her interesting, merely the type of person who sits and rambles about their past. Sad, actually.

There's also an eighty-year-old chef who falls asleep, forgets ingredients (that Liz has to add) and makes a mess of the kitchen (that Liz has to clean up). Who did it while she was living in Manhattan? Who made sure the meals were correct? Or did people just eat the food without realizing key ingredients weren't there?

Why are all the shops named "by the Sea?" Can the tourist not figure out these places are by the sea and need to be informed before they enter every one? Overkill. Wordy. Not necessary. There was also too much talk of 1960's television and it felt as if it were just filler. Yes, there are people who have never seen these shows and/or don't know the characters; but then again we don't really need to know the plot of every single show Amelia was on. It also seems like everyone is living at the hotel for free except for the Worths, so how are they making any money to keep it going? Everyone (except Liz and Ryan) has a 'suite of rooms' at the hotel.

I didn't really understand why Liz was investigating; she didn't have a reason to do so, it seems Charlotte was doing a decent job. But is it Detective or Agent Pearson? At first she's introduced as Agent Pearson, then later on it's noted she's a homicide detective. Do they call her Agent Detective Pearson (or Detective Agent Pearson)? One or the other, please, but not both.

The murder was solved nicely although I think the pieces fit together a little too conveniently. It seemed as if the author just couldn't bear to hurt anyone in the book regardless of their level of guilt. I also didn't much care for Ryan, Liz, or Amelia, and you need to care about the characters. Hopefully this series will improve with the second book, and also hopefully we'll find out what exactly happened to Liz that sent her scurrying home to Papa and Aunt Amelia; but if I have to listen to many more of Auntie's stories, I don't know if I'll continue on to book three. ( )
  joannefm2 | Aug 31, 2018 |
The Indiatlantic Hotel may be falling a bit into disrepair, but the eccentric cast of characters, who are truly characters, make up for the interior design. Plus a new shopping area is bringing both new and old wealth and visitors to this area of Florida. Best selling author Liz Holt has decided to leave NYC and return to her family hotel home, her father still taking a few cases as a lawyer and her great aunt who has quite the storied past. The nods to various 60's shows and stars was kind of fun, and the descripitons of the area seem enticing. ( )
  ethel55 | Jun 8, 2018 |
Liz Holt comes home to Melbourne, FL and her family's hotel, The Indialantic, to help manage the property now that it is getting a bit older and not quite in the best of condition. Surprisingly, a wealthy patron books a suite which should help business but not when she is murdered in that suite. Needing to clear the name of the hotel, Liz decides she needs to "assist" the police in their investigation.

This story really dragged at the beginning with too many characters to be introduced and put in place, too much background information and the mystery was pretty slow as well. Not sure this is a series I will continue. ( )
  cyderry | Jun 7, 2018 |
Death by the Sea by Kathleen Bridge is the first novel in A By the Sea Mystery series. Elizabeth “Liz” Holt has returned home to Melbourne Beach, Florida to The Indialantic by the Sea Hotel and Emporium which is owned by Amelia Eden Holt, her aunt. Aunt Amelia is an eccentric former actress who helped raise Liz along with Liz’s father, Fenton Holt. Liz is living in the beach house. She helps out in the hotel and is working on her next novel (well—she is supposed to be). Their latest guest is Regina Harrington-Worth and her husband David who will be staying with them while their historic home is being demolished and a modern monstrosity is built in its place. Regina considers The Indialantic beneath her, but it is the only hotel with a vacancy that will allow pets. After a successful Spring Fling event, they discover that Regina was found dead in her suite, her husband was stabbed, and some very expensive jewels have gone missing. Liz immediately dives in to find who committed the dastardly deed. Who disliked Regina enough to kill her (that is one long suspect list)? Join Liz at The Indialantic as she examines the clues and questions the suspects to catch the evildoer.

Death by the Sea is a slow starter. The murder does not happen until the forty-four percent mark. The beginning of the book is an introduction to the Liz, the hotel, the employees, Liz’s family, the guests, and the shops and their owners. The author overwhelms readers with the amount of information she is dishing out. Kathleen Bridge is a wordy writer. It creates a rich environment, but it also makes a slow-moving story. I do like the beautiful hotel and emporium that Ms. Bridge created in Death by the Sea. I did feel that the story jumps around making it disjointed. Liz has returned home after a disastrous relationship that ended in Liz being physically injured. Since Liz and her paramour are public figures, the whole debacle was fodder for the media. There are numerous quirky characters with the biggest one being Aunt Amelia. A popular actress during the 1960s who has passed her love of 60s sitcoms and movies along to Liz. The various shows and movies from that time-period are mentioned throughout the book (Dark Shadows, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Gilligan’s Island for example). I enjoyed the comments regarding the popular teen girl mystery novels which included Nancy Drew, Connie Blair, and Dana Girls (which I collect). There was an abundance of repetition (it is a common malady in books that I have read recently) along with a cliché nasty detective. The pace picks up slightly in the second half of the book as the investigation gets under way. I think the author tried to put too much into one book. The hotel, the numerous quirky characters, the unique shops, Liz’s nemesis, Liz and her issues, a love interest, Regina’s father and how he died, the treasure of the San Carlos, Spring Fling, Fenton Holt and his practice, the obnoxious bird with the foul mouth, the hairless cat, and Liz and her writing difficulties are just a few of the items in the book. The murder of Regina was not as complicated as it seemed, and it can be solved before the reveal. At the end of the book, readers are still left wondering how Liz was injured. We are told about her injuries, but not how they happened. There are also some contradictions (one example is the hotel is not doing well, but an employee has a large suite and some people seem to live there for free). My rating for Death by the Sea is 3 out of 5 stars. I am hoping the author will scale back in A Killing by the Sea. ( )
  Kris_Anderson | Apr 13, 2018 |
Liz Holt returns to Indialantic, Florida where her father runs the Indialantic by the Sea Hotel. We meet an odd assortment of characters who appear to find little to do other than drop names of old movies. (How many old titles can be fit into the book? Hundreds, it seemed.) Robbery appears to be the motive when a wealthy guest turns up dead about 40% of the way into the book. This installment failed to make me care about the amateur sleuth, detective, or any other character. I felt the author simply tried to show off her knowledge of old movies. I looked forward to a mystery set in this locale but came away disappointed. Other readers may find it more appealing. I will skip future installments. I received an advance reader's copy through NetGalley with the expectation an honest review would be written. ( )
  thornton37814 | Mar 3, 2018 |
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