Murder at Mussel Cove

by Hugh MacDonald
273 pages,
ISBN: 0973749709

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First Novels
by W.P. Kinsella

Murder at Mussel Cove, by Hugh MacDonald, has the most interesting cover so far this year: six pairs of eyes staring from a wall of flame. Sara, fleeing an abusive boyfriend in the USA, settles in Halifax, gets a job as a reporter for a weekly, and is sent to Mussel Cove to investigate a series of fires. Her accommodation is Safe Haven, a foreboding former orphanage, a sinister and dark place. Her housekeeper is a one-handed woman. There is another fire and a little orphaned girl inserts herself into Sara's life.
Two young thugs who creep around the grounds of Safe Haven at night are bludgeoned to death with shovels. There are other disappearances, arsons and murders, and Sara's own life becomes endangered. The orphanage has a bizarre history and many of the occupants of the town are survivors of Safe Haven. Sara has no shortage of men interested in her charms, her favorite being the town police chief. I am willing to suspend my disbelief to a certain extent, but I was simply unable to accept the events in this novel. Sara has to be smart, adventurous, charming and sexy (incidentally the sex scenes are very self-consciously done), but she also has to be dumb as a rock in order not to see what is happening, to accept the series of violent events and not get the heck out of Dodge, or better yet, arrange to have the Mussel Cove crawling with RCMP. I won't give away any of the mostly preposterous events that take place just in case your ability to suspend your disbelief is much better than mine.

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