My thanks to Headline and NetGalley for a review copy of the book.

Murder at the Seaview Hotel is the first in a cosy mystery series set in Scarborough. We meet 48-year-old Helen Dexter who has just a few months ago lost her beloved husband Tom to cancer. After having spent a couple of months with her sister-in-law in Scotland, she has just returned to Scarborough and to the Seaview Hotel, a ten-room Bed and Breakfast she ran with Tom. Although Tom had made her promise she would continue the venture before he passed, Helen is having doubts and in fact considering whether she should sell and start life afresh. But almost as soon as she returns, she receives a phone call from a band of Elvis impersonators and performers, Twelvis, who are coming into town for a performance and wish to book rooms at the Seaview Hotel. Tom was a huge Elvis fan and even dressed as Elvis himself, throwing Elvis parties at the Hotel. Taking this as a sign, Helen accepts the booking, and calls her cook Jean (who will only serve full English breakfasts) and cleaning lady Sally back to work. Reopening the place and running it without Tom by her side is a difficult prospect but Helen prepares to face it.

But besides the call from Twelvis, Helen also receives a call from Bensons, a real estate agent with an offer to buy the property—but this is no ordinary offer, rather, the agent is browbeating, even threatening Helen into making a quick decision. Then, one of the Twelvis band, the most unsavoury of the lot, Brian (who is also a lech), makes her a similar offer on behalf of a ‘friend’. Helen is shaken by the nature of these offers but makes her refusal very clear. But while she wants to brush them off, things get worse when she gets a threat to her dog Suki in the mail, and then Suki is targeted as well. Also, negative reviews of the Hotel (all fake of course) are increasingly appearing online—clearly a bid to force Helen into selling. It looks like someone will stop at nothing to get their hands on the property.

Meanwhile on the day of the performance, one of the Elvises (not hard guessing which one) goes missing, and later is found dead in a lake—strangled, in fact. The police begin to investigate, but the murder is doing nothing to help the Hotel’s reputation which gets further hit, with people cancelling bookings.

Alongside, we also follow Helen’s personal life—meeting her friends, the glamorous Marie, who is married to a crook, Darran Clark, and Bev and Sue who have been acting rather strangely lately. Her staff Jean and Sally are warm and supportive, and Sally’s little daughter Gracie loves Helen very much as well. Also Elvis One, James ‘Jimmy’ Brown is taking an interest in Helen, and Helen herself likes him though finds it hard to cope with her feelings, given that she has only recently lost Tom.

This was a fun and pleasant read with likeable characters, a charming setting with some fun elements, and a fairly enjoyable mystery.

I took to Helen almost from the start, and enjoyed following her journey with the hotel and of course the mystery at hand. Her situation of living every day without Tom and learning to cope, and yet at the same time finding it difficult to move on was something I could relate to. On the other hand, while I liked her and rooted for her, there were some things she did which seemed rather foolish, like continuing to leave Suki the dog outside cafes unattended when she went in—even if it was just to order coffee, when Suki had been poisoned in just a similar scenario, why would she continue to do that? Also going in to face a possible murderer on her own wasn’t the most sensible thing either.

I enjoyed the Scarborough setting in the book—the author weaves in local sights and landmarks, the Grand Hotel and Peasholm Park among them, as also Anne Bronte’s grave, which gave one a great feel of the place; for those familiar with the town, this would be all the more enjoyable. The other background element of the story—the Elvis impersonators added a fun touch to the story—costumes and performances (of which Helen also finds herself a part), plus the Elvis jukebox and Elvis-themed parties that the Seaview used to have when Tom was there. A few more references to songs would have enhanced the background further.

The mystery element in the book I found to be quite enjoyable. While nothing extraordinary or out of the box, it gave us enough threads and possibilities to explore. The victim’s past, his dodgy connections, and also his own somewhat sleazy character. And there was enough of a surprise element in the solution.

I’ve written about Helen but not the other characters—them too I found quite interesting and likeable, each with their own story—since this is a first in series, there is plenty of detail. Marie, Bev and Sue, Helen’s friends each have issues in their lives, seem to have secrets as well, which we discover as we go on—but they are there for Helen as well. Her staff, Jean and Sally are warm and likeable—Jean’s fixed ideas on breakfast which Helen tries to change, and Sally’s life—her studies towards earning a business degree besides working and looking after her daughter are additional storylines we explore. Then there is also Jimmy’s story, which has complications of its own. Gav, a jack of many trades, who fixes among other things security cameras for Helen, and wants a constant flow of food as he works was also a fun character.

The book I thought was a great introductory one, giving one several elements and threads to look forward to. We have Helen’s plans to improve the hotel’s ratings, redecorate and do better with the business (which includes Jean expanding her menu); then there is her relationship with Jimmy. Also Marie reveals some plans at the end of the book, and I would love to see how they pan out. Then there are also Sally and Gav’s stories. And of course whatever mystery Helen finds herself thrown in the midst of next. This is a series which I am very much looking forward to following.

4 stars

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Murder at the Seaview Hotel by Glenda Young

  1. Very nice review — many thanks! Although I don’t read many cozy mysteries these days, there are times when nothing else will quite do. It’s also fun to follow a series from the beginning; it doesn’t happen often for me (I’m always the last to find these things) so I feel an emotional connection as the characters and plot lines develop.
    The Elvis angle sounds fun. I must admit I was surprised to see it occur in Britain; I thought it was a phenomenon confined to us here in the U.S.!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. This was a fun one both for the Scarborough setting and the Elvises. You’re right though, one would expect impersonators in an American rather than English setting.

      Cosies are comfortable to turn to every now and then, though personally, when I need comfort reading I usually go back to Christie.

      And this is one of the rare times I’ve started a series at the beginning; usually it’s any old way 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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