A Time to Swill
reviewed by Pam Guynn
A Time to Swill by Sherry Harris is the second book in the Chloe Jackson, Sea Glass Saloon cozy mystery series. The author brings humor, mystery, and beach atmosphere to this novel. The story is largely set in the fictional small town of Emerald Cove on the Florida Panhandle between Panama City and Pensacola.
Chloe Jackson had promised her late friend, Boone, that she would help his grandmother, Vivi, if something happened to him. After spending the summer working with Vivi at the Sea Glass Saloon, Chloe has now moved from Chicago to Emerald Cove. Her first morning back, she decides to run on the beach when she sees a sailboat washed up on a sandbar. After hearing a cry she boards the boat and finds a cat and a skeleton. Who is it and how long have they been adrift at sea? Were they murdered or did they die of natural causes? Chloe is determined to find answers.
Chloe is a protagonist that you can root for and she shows some character growth and added depth as she deals with trust issues and friendships. There is an array of characters, both friendly and antagonists, to keep Chloe and the reader on their toes. Some are eccentric, some are more mundane, but personable small town business owners, and others are secondary and tertiary characters to round out the story. Who has secrets and who is telling lies? Who can be trusted?
The book is well-plotted and intriguing. With mystery, suspense, and the occasional laugh-out-loud moments, this book kept me engaged. There was enough at stake to keep me turning the pages. The pacing allowed for the scenes to progress and flow with effective transitions. As always, this author did a great job of world-building. I got a clear sense of the town and the area around it as well as the people. While the reveal of the antagonist was not a complete surprise, there were plenty of twists and turns to get there. While the main plot is fully resolved, there is also a sub-plot that starts but doesn’t get completely resolved. Hopefully, book three in the series will conclude this thread.
Overall, this was a well-done mystery that was engaging, entertaining and a great second book in this new series. I am looking forward to the next book. I am also a fan of this author’s Sara Winston Garage Sale cozy mystery series. If you enjoy well-done cozy mysteries, then this is an author that I recommend.
Kensington Books and Sherry Harris provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently expected to be July 27, 2021.