Nothing happens at The Shores. Ceilidhs, yes. Killings, no. Until one night, murder comes to the isolated Prince Edward Island village. Amateur sleuth Hy McAllister trips over a body on the beach. It's cottager Lance Lord, dressed like Jimi Hendrix, his head split open by an axe. As Hurricane Angus moves up the coast, Mountie Jane Jamieson and Hy vie to figure out who killed who and why, but they’re crippled by the hurricane, a power failure, and, finally, a dense fog. The Shores is sheltering a murderer. A murderer whose motive is possessive love, whose mind is the weapon, and who will kill again -- until Hy turns the weapon on the killer.

Chronicle Herald Review: October 30
Mind Over Mussels: A Shores Mystery by Hilary MacLeod (Acorn Press, $22.95)

Murder strikes once again on the Shores, a tiny island off the coast of Red Island (better known as Prince Edward Island).

Hy McAllister, a freelance editor and amateur snoop, trips over the body of Lance Lord while beachcombing as a hurricane churns ever closer. A Canadian television personality, Lord is dressed in Jimi Hendrix garb and has a lobster claw sticking out of a head wound.

But before the corpse can be properly examined, it’s washed out to sea by hurricane Angus, much to the displeasure of RCMP officer Jane Jamieson. The Mountie has rushed back from a wedding to begin the probe, which McAllister can’t help but stick her nose in. But neither rain, fog nor a soggy bridesmaid’s dress will keep Jamieson from hunting for a killer among the locals and come-from-aways.

MacLeod’s Shores series made its debut last year with Revenge of the Lobster Lover. This followup work shows that the author, a former CBC radio host who lives in Ontario and P.E.I., is finding her sea legs in the cozy genre. The story is stronger and more cohesive this time, with less reliance on humour to hold the novel together.

This book is also funny, though, with a cast of colourful characters with appeal because of their outdated ways, nosiness and occasional cluelessness. There’s also amusing dialogue and a soap opera romance or two. Readers won’t want to miss out on the introductory yoga at the Women’s Institute or the spiked punch at the ceilidh.

MacLeod originally planned to write a three-book series. But these novels are such fun, perhaps the P.E.I. publisher will consider asking for more.

Review in the Charlottetown Guardian, November 5 by Elizabeth Cran

"Mind over Mussels", (Acorn Press, $22.95) Hilary MacLeod's black comic mystery, it seems to me an improvement over her much praised first novel "Revenge of the Lobster Lover". For one thing its not so far-fetched; for another, it is not right to say so much that is bad about one of Gods creatures - that way extinction lies.

Most of the characters in the new book seem more like ordinary humans, and less like freaks. Of course there are exceptions - Suki the oversexed wife of one of the victims, and Big Ed, owner and developer of the successful fitness programme called Mind over Muscle.

The plot is too tangled to relate here. Like any good mystery, it twists and turns until almost the last page. Judged strictly as a mystery, it is quite a good one. And for people who like this kind of mystery, this is the kind they like, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln.

Hot Reads: No shortage of suspects in Mind Over Mussels


Mind Over Mussels, by Hilary MacLeod, is a whodunit.
Hilary MacLeod has written another book set in a fictionalized part of Prince Edward Island, and it’s peopled with the same characters she thought up for Revenge of the Lobster Lover, her first foray into the mystery genre.

Calling this a mystery is a bit of a stretch, though. It’s more of a quirky soap opera, with nonsensical plot twists and cartoonish locals. And you need a huge suspension of disbelief if you are to follow the conclusion of the murder investigation.

The book begins with a corpse on the beach and an inquisitive fox out for the hunt. MacLeod gives away a major part of the plot in the first pages when the fox picks up the scents of a male and a female human coming and going near the dead body, but you have to keep reading to figure out which man and woman they were.

Dead is Lance Lord, a former TV star and local crank who likes to dress up like Jimmy Hendrix and rail at anyone who dares step on his land on the way to the beach.

Hyacinth (Hy) McAllister is the morning jogger who trips over the body. Her discovery sets in motion an investigation by the local RCMP officer, Jane Jamieson, who is desperate to have a real case to get her out of the backwater and on to a real posting in a place like Toronto. Hy and Jamieson have clashed before and will clash again over Hy’s amateur sleuthing.

A hurricane is moving up the coast. Sure enough, storm surges wash the body away before Jamieson can get to it.

Lord had two wives. A will is found partially burned in his stove. And his neighbour, and most vocal antagonist over the land issue, is missing. Lots of suspects keep cropping up.

There are as many characters and subplots here as you’d find on Wisteria Lane.

It’s silly, at times amusing, but ultimately light as a feather.