Night Watch, by Linda Hall (Linda Hall, 2014)
Captain Emmeline Ridge’s stint delivering a luxury sailboat from Canada to Bermuda is rudely interrupted when the owner’s daughter vanishes over the side in the middle of the night. The ship and crew are brought to Portland, Maine, for an investigation, but the complications have only begun.
Detective Ben Dunlinson, new to the Portland City Police and very new to all things nautical, seems competent despite rumours of past disgrace. The local sailing community, including highly-respected Captain Tom Mallen, offers support.
Compounding Em’s stress, the state medical examiner discovers irregularities in the records of Em’s husband Jesse’s death. Jesse died nearly two years ago in what was called a freak accident, but Em has wondered. And continued to grieve.
Em is a resourceful and intelligent woman, trying desperately to figure out what’s going on. Who’s behind this current murder? And how could it possibly be tied to Jesse? Em’s emotional state causes some questionable choices about who to trust, until I wanted to crawl into the book and yell at her. (I’m not saying if those choices turned out to be right or wrong, just that at the time they looked wrong. No spoilers here.)
Linda Hall is one of those gifted authors who can weave memorable characters, lifelike settings and intriguing plots into novels that are too easy to keep reading when we should stop to sleep. I always enjoy her minor characters, the ones with not a lot of page time but who deepen the story. In this case, I liked Em’s neighbours in the small point of land on which she lives.
One of the fun things about this mystery is the authentic sailing setting. The author knows her sailing, and her descriptions include details that draw readers into the experience. This is woven organically into the story, and never presented as an info-dump or lecture.
His fingers kept crawling up the sides of his squall jacket like crabs. [Kindle location 90]
Thinking about my current bank account made me want to crawl into a corner and chew on the ends of my sweater sleeves. [Kindle location 1455]
Night Watch is book one in the Em Ridge Mystery series. It’s a mainstream novel and does contain occasional mild profanity. That didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story, but if it’s an issue for you, be warned.
Award-winning author Linda Hall has written many novels for the Christian market, and this is her first mainstream mystery. Her most recent publication was the short story anthology, Strange Faces, also mainstream. You can read my review here.) You can find Linda Hall online at writerhall.com or on Facebook.
[Advance review copy provided by the author.]