Sealfinger by Heide Goody and Iain Grant is the first installment of the Sam Applewhite mystery series. In this first book, we meet our heroine Sam, who works for DefCon4 though she isn’t entirely certain what her job entails or why her supervisor is a cactus.
She is joined by her retired, legendary magician father, and her new friend who owns an outlandish junk shop and upcycles things others may consider rubbish (frankly I wouldn’t mind a good spin-off or prequel series for the shop owner). Our current Applewhite story starts with an elderly woman who tells Sam she is seeing ghosts each night while Sam’s van of Meals on Wheels food is being attacked by a rebel seal.
It is a multiple viewpoint story that keeps us on our toes. The alternate view is offered by a local building contractor, his not-too-bright crony, and their beautiful but steely boss. The series of unfortunate events weaves the reader through encounters with psychotic seals, hunting for missing persons, crossing unexploded mine fields, cleaning up containers of Capitalist Whores, how not to DIY a foot surgery, and, as all good stories do, ends with a magically smashing party.
We meet a lovable cast of quirky characters through multiple viewpoint storytelling instantly drawing you in and keeping you engaged. The two viewpoints throughout the book helped to remove that suspense of “whodunit” yet allowing for suspense to build through the character’s interactions. It was a nice change to not spend my time subconsciously trying to work out the culprit. Instead I could freely enjoy the chase. The second viewpoint gave a fascinating look into how one stumbles their way through one unfortunate event to the next and comes out seemingly as if it were meant to happen.
I found myself quickly immersed in the small coastal town of Skegness, wanting to spend an afternoon in the café listening to the town gossip. It’s full of lovable characters and ridiculous events and conversations. It kept me turning the page to see what else the authors could imagine, a la P.G. Wodehouse. While it isn’t quite as escapist as Mr. Wodehouse’s novels, the book captures the same whimsy of events, innocently ironic or sarcastic one liners, and imaginative metaphors.
Quite often, I couldn’t contain my giggles or surprising my pup with exclamations of, “How on earth?!” or “Wha..?” or a guttural “Oh geez.”
This is just another fantastic read by Goody and Grant for those familiar with their works such as the Oddjobs and Clovenhoof series. It remains faithful to their known wordsmith stylings and humor. It’s a delightful light read for anyone who enjoys British humor and crime capers. My word of warning is there may be a few descriptive paragraphs to skip for those with very weak stomachs. There also may be some unfamiliarity with British terminology, but it’s minimal. It won’t deter from the story or the enjoyment.
All in all, I highly recommend it for your next vacation or pool day. So, kick back, relax, raise a glass of “Life’s What You Make It”, and read away the day.
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