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The Harbour Lights Mystery by Emylia Hall : a review

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts about The Harbour Lights Mystery by Emylia Hall.

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book cover for The Harbour Lights Mystery by Emylia Hall.  A vector shows a harbour scene with lantern lights strung across the top of the cover

The Harbour Lights Mystery by Emylia Hall

  • Category : Crime & Mystery
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Thomas & Mercer (17 Oct. 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1662505159
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1662505157
  • Amazon | Hive Books | Goodreads

The Harbour Lights Mystery Summary

As The Shell House Detectives try to solve a family mystery, their investigation runs dangerously close to a murder case. Are the two linked?

It’s December in Cornwall, and Mousehole harbour is illuminated with its famous Christmas lights. Ally Bright is among the crowd listening to the carol singers―and then to the piercing screams that rip through the darkness. A body has been found, brutally murdered and dumped in a fisherman’s boat.

The victim is chef JP Sharpe and there is no shortage of people who might have wanted him dead. Eager for a new case for The Shell House Detectives, Ally calls ex-cop Jayden, but he’s keen to leave it to the police―until a letter in Sharpe’s pocket draws them into a seemingly unconnected family mystery. As they take on this highly charged mission, the duo can’t help scrutinising the murder suspects. Who among the close-knit community has reason to kill, and how far will they go to protect themselves?

As fear spreads, Ally and Jayden need answers―fast. Could the letter offer a clue to the murder case or will it reveal a terrible truth? And when a new witness comes to light, Jayden closes in on a desperate killer…but can he warn Ally in time?

The Harbour Lights Mystery Review

This second story in the Shell House Detectives Mystery series felt just like coming home! 

I loved that the pace kept up all the way through.  Once the crime has been committed, the suspects and their lives are laid out for us (but some secrets are held back until later of course).  I had my suspicions about half-way through, changed my mind a couple of times, but was still shocked at how far one person was willing to go!

Jayden’s life has changed with the arrival of baby Jasmine (who is now 9 months old) but he still has a key part to play.  One scene in particular gave me palpitations!  Emylia Hall’s writing really brought this to life, so much so that it was me there feeling and experiencing everything he did.  OMG, I have goosebumps reliving it now.  I didn’t see that coming!

As in all types of relationships, Ally and Jayden are still finding the balance to who they are as a team.  I enjoyed the push and pull, the conflict of decisions and the compromising.

I was hoping Saff would have a larger part to play in this story but I wasn’t expecting what was coming for her!  I really enjoyed getting to know her.  Such an emotional rollercoaster with what happens. And Broady! just goes to show how easy it is to make assumptions …

Another character we get an insight into is Detective Sargeant Skinner.  There are a few surprises there too!

Oh yes and another thing I loved – the custom/old tradition in Mousehole of Tom Bawcock and the Stargazy Pie and how it weaves through the story.

Something I realised when I finished reading The Harbour Lights Mystery, there’s an array of human motivation and behaviours in the rawness and vulnerability of all the characters; Trip Stephens, Bev Potter and her husband Neil, Phil Butt and his wife Melissa, Dominic and Wilson.  The murder and investigation are gripping enough (I found it hard to put the book down) but when you throw into the mix their vulnerability and emotions, this is such a powerhouse of a story.

An easy 5* from me!

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About the Author

Emylia Hall lives with her husband and son in Bristol, where she writes from a hut in the garden and dreams of the sea. The Shell House Detectives is her first crime novel and is inspired by her love of Cornwall’s wild landscape. Emylia has published four previous novels, including Richard and Judy Book Club pick The Book of Summers and The Thousand Lights Hotel. Her work has been translated into ten languages and broadcast on BBC Radio 6 Music. She is the founder of Mothership Writers and is a writing coach at The Novelry.

You can follow Emylia on Instagram @emyliahall_author and on Twitter @emyliahall

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