Monday, April 30, 2018

Review: The High Tide Club

Summary: When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons Brooke Trappnell to Talisa Island, her 20,000 acre remote barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter with Brooke, who is an attorney, but Brooke knows that Mrs. Warrick has long been a client of a prestigious Atlanta law firm.

Over a few meetings, the ailing Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, secrets, betrayal and a long-unsolved murder. She tells Brooke she is hiring her for two reasons: to protect her island and legacy from those who would despoil her land, and secondly, to help her make amends with the heirs of the long dead women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club—so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades—Millie, Ruth and Varina. When Josephine dies with her secrets intact, Brooke is charged with contacting Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met.

The High Tide Club is Mary Kay Andrews at her Queen of the Beach Reads best, a compelling and witty tale of romance thwarted, friendships renewed, justice delivered, and true love found. -- St. Martin's Press

The sticker on my Advanced Review copy of THE HIGH TIDE CLUB says, "Summer begins with Mary Kay Andrews " and that's seriously the truth for me. Every May or so, I read Ms. Andrews' latest novel. This year, she's written something a little different. THE HIGH TIDE CLUB is more of a mystery than a carefree beach book, but there are definitely still elements of Ms. Andrews' writing that fans will appreciate.

THE HIGH TIDE CLUB begins when Josephine Bettendorf Warrick asks Brooke Trappnell to visit her on Talisa Island, the barrier island that she owns and loves. Josephine is 99 years old and doesn't have too much longer to live, and she wants to discuss an important legal matter with Brooke. Brooke's curiosity is definitely piqued but she's also confused because Josephine already works with an established Atlanta law firm.

When Brooke arrives on the island, she sees that Josephine is struggling. Her health is failing as is the condition of her estate. After a few meetings where Josephine tells Brooke her story, she eventually asks Brooke to help her save her island from the people that want to take it away and make changes to it and to help her make amends with the heirs of her long lost friends -- aka the High Tide Club.

Unfortunately, Josephine dies before all of her secrets were revealed -- namely who was the person responsible for unsolved murder that took place about 80 years ago. Brooke doesn't really understand everything that Josephine wanted her to do, but she does her best to bring together Josephine's friends' descendants together. These women who never even knew the others existed come together in to save Talisa Island and uncover the long held secrets of their descendants.

I think fans of Mary Kay Andrews will enjoy THE HIGH TIDE CLUB, but if I'm being entirely honestly, it wasn't my favorite of her books. I liked most of the characters as well as the mystery aspect of the novel, and I even thought there was just enough romance and female friendship to make it an ideal summer read; however, it did take me quite awhile to really get into the story. The book seemed a bit long to me, coming in at over 400 pages; and I found the first third or so to be repetitive.

Having said that, once I got about halfway into the novel, I felt the story began to flow. The pace seemed much faster (maybe because there weren't as many flashbacks to the stories of the original High Tide Club), and there were aspects of the book that just interested me more (like Brooke's personal life and her romances with two men.) I did find the mystery to be compelling, and I appreciated how everything unfolded and them came together (if that makes sense!)

I also really liked some of the characters in this novel. Brooke was probably my favorite, but I also really liked her mother and Varina, the only living member of the High Tide Club. Brooke certainly had her hands full on many levels -- managing her career, getting involved in the mess of Josephine's estate, being a single mother, and even dating; however, she was a no nonsense individual with a good heart. I appreciated that the author gave the reader insight into her life because I found her to be a compelling character... and one I'd like to see again in future books.

As is always the case with a MKA novel, she did a wonderful job in bringing the characters and setting to life. I loved not only the descriptions of Talisa Island but also the decrepit mansion. I could also picture this barrier island and what the house looked like in its days of glory through the use of the flashbacks. Ms. Andrews attention to detail was spot-on in both her physical descriptions of the setting and characters.

And finally, I always love that Ms. Andrews' book have some romance thrown in for good measure. In the case of THE HIGH TIDE CLUB, there was a little fun (and some not-so-fun) male companionship for Brooke. (It definitely was just a minor thread in the story and not over-the-top at all!) However, it's Ms. Andrews' ability to always include the theme of female friendship in the story that really warms my heart. Not only did she demonstrate a great group of friends with the High Tide Club, but she also brought their heirs together for a new set of female friends.

All in all, THE HIGH TIDE CLUB is an entertaining mystery that should be included in many beach bags this summer. Recommend to fans of Mary Kay Andrews and readers who like their mysteries with a little romance and friendship.

Thanks to Tandem Literary for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

I thought this book started out slowly too. After I was done with it, I felt like Andrews returned to her roots because it kind of made me think of the Callahan Garrity books she used to write.

Kim@Time2Read said...

I've never read a book by Mary Kay Andrews, but her book covers certainly make me think 'Summer!' when I see them!