While looking for an easy to read mystery, I came across the Alex Trotter series by Cheryl Peyton. Attracted by the main character’s career as a tour operator I chose the first book in the series, Murder on Bedford Island.
I found the idea of a group of strangers vacationing at an old inn on an island with no cell phones appealing. There’s the flavor of an Agatha Christie mystery in the setting. Peyton adds to that with her array of suspects in the murder that occurs early in the story.
Peyton introduces the guests as she sets the stage for the adventures to come. Alex Trotter is a young woman who organizes tours for small groups. A group of thirteen are headed to Bedford Island for a week-long holiday. That number immediately made me perk up. What a great way to grab the reader’s attention! Unlucky number thirteen sends up warning signals, danger ahead! Three couples, one family of three, two single women friends, and another single woman, and a last-minute addition of a single man are all gathering on the isolated island for a week of R&R. What they get is something very different.
As events unfold, it turns out not all the guests are strangers to one another. And the backstories set more than one on the path to be a murder suspect. But only one can be the killer. Add to this complex list the staff at the Bedford Inn and the suspect list grows. From the manager of the inn to the waitress who serves meals, the receptionist to the janitor, and even the cook, there are secrets to be revealed.
Who would want Conrad Pierce dead and who had the opportunity to make it happen? Enter police detective Arlie Tate who arrives to investigate the killing. In his opinion, everyone is a suspect, including Alex Trotter!
Tate is a no-nonsense investigator. When Alex interjects herself into the investigation he lets her know he does not appreciate her interference. But Alex can’t help herself. She feels responsible for bringing these strangers together.
Along with a good mystery with plenty of clues are Peyton’s descriptions of the island and the history of the location and the inn. The group activities are neatly set into the story and even provide clues to the solution of the crime. While the onus of Tate’s investigation falls on Pierce’s wife and step-daughter, there are plenty of reasons someone else in the group could have killed the man.
This is an easy read with a shocking conclusion. I confess I didn’t see the end of this book. Peyton set it up beautifully. A “locked room”, or in this case isolated island mystery turns out to be a twisted crime story. The clues are there, slowly revealed by the author, in a skillfully drawn plot.
I recommend this book as a cozy mystery with a dark twist. Cheers to author Cheryl Peyton for stumping me! I will be reading more of Alex Trotter’s adventures!