Title: Seaplane to Sounion
Author: Devin Todd
Genre: Cozy Mystery
A quick, easy-to-read story with an intriguing plot and hints of romance, Seaplane to Sounion welcomes readers to Ellie Pincrest’s life in 1986, when her long-time boyfriend has just unceremoniously broken up with her, leaving her eager to visit the quiet town where her grandmother’s lives for the weekend.
But Sounion is anything but quiet this visit. A fancy hotel firm wants to take over the school’s athletic fields, bringing jobs and glamor to the area, and they hire Ellie to design their logo…even as deaths keep occurring and threats pile up. She finds herself longing to learn more, to where she can’t just go back to Manhattan as planned despite what her new clients claim and how dangerous an investigation could be.
Ellie is a nicely nuanced character, clever but vulnerable and very capable in her field though not necessarily experienced in solving crimes. She teams up with a new local police officer and her vibrant grandmother, and together, they try to piece together what is going on. The story moves at a steady but believable pace, and her grandmother nicely supplies the local “knows everyone” angle, though the story features the out-of-town guests far more than the citizens of Sounion.
The narration can be a little edgy for a cozy mystery, as Ellie is caught in compromising situations which are portrayed in a sexual light by the other characters involved, even though she defends herself and tries to explain what really happened. Half the deaths occur during the course of the story with Ellie right there, giving readers a more direct access to these tragedies than might otherwise be expected for this genre, but the author nicely keeps the details and descriptions to a minimum, telling what happens without focusing on the deaths themselves.
The book could use a little more editorial polish, as there are a few places where the perspective unexpectedly shifts from Ellie to another character’s mindset without an indication that such a transition is possible or likely to happen, but overall, it’s a clean read that nicely keeps its time period in mind, relying on newspapers, magazines, and other “ways to discover things” without the internet.
There are moments where it’s not clear why Ellie is so determined to solve the mystery, to where it’d be nice to elaborate on her internal motivations a bit more, showing why being lied to bothers her so much or why she can’t just return to Manhattan contentedly, especially since she took the job for the hotel firm and her investigation is likely to create ill-will with her clients and trouble for her firm.
Believably written and comfortably paced, this story is perfect for readers who enjoy a modern historical fiction story or like a mystery full of puzzles, intrigue, and plenty of suspects. The author nicely supplies readers with the clues they need to follow along and solve the mystery as Ellie does, though it keeps Ellie’s final thoughts on what happened and who is behind the crimes a secret until the climax, leading to a tense final scene full of action, danger, and tension.
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