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Death at High Tide is the delightful first installment in the Island Sisters series by Hannah Dennison, featuring two sisters who inherit an old hotel in the remote Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall and find it full of intrigue, danger, and romance.
When Evie Mead’s husband, Robert, suddenly drops dead of a heart attack, a mysterious note is found among his possessions. It indicates that Evie may own the rights to an old hotel on Tregarrick Rock, one of the Isles of Scilly.
Still grieving, Evie is inclined to leave the matter to the accountant to sort out. Her sister Margot, however, flown in from her glamorous career in LA, has other plans. Envisioning a luxurious weekend getaway, she goes right ahead and buys two tickets—one way—to Tregarrick.
Once at the hotel—used in its heyday to house detective novelists, and more fixer-upper than spa resort, after all—Evie and Margot attempt to get to the bottom of things. But the foul-tempered hotel owner claims he’s never met the late Robert, even after Evie finds framed photos of them—alongside Robert’s first wife—in his office. The rest of the island inhabitants, ranging from an ex-con receptionist to a vicar who communicates with cats, aren’t any easier to read.
But when a murder occurs at the hotel, and then another soon follows, frustration turns to desperation. There’s no getting off the island at high tide. And Evie and Margot, the only current visitors to Tregarrick, are suspects one and two. It falls to them to unravel secrets spanning generations—and several of their own—if they want to make it back alive.
Character Post: Evie Mead
It’s funny how quickly life can change in an instant. One moment I was happily married to Robert Mead, planning the day ahead that would involve a long walk in the English countryside, lunch in a local pub and always some unexpected surprise along the way – last minute tickets to a play or a new restaurant to try. Two days ago we were in Paris for an exhibition of one of my favorite photographers and next week we’d talked about taking a trip on the Orient Express.
My glamorous big sister Margot had been horrified when I’d married someone twenty-two years my senior and claimed he’d be an old fuddy-duddy but she was wrong. Life with Robert was never boring.
And then he died.
The moment I broke the news, Margot dropped everything, took a night flight from Los Angeles and flew 5,000 miles to be with me.
As siblings growing up we couldn’t have been closer. In our early twenties we practically lived next door to each other in London, but then, as often happens, she married a man who whisked her off to Hollywood to work in movies, and I married Robert, put away my camera, and retreated happily to my dream house in a beautiful corner in Kent.
When Robert’s Will mentioned the Tregarrick Rock hotel in the Isles of Scilly – an archipelago twenty-eight miles off the southwest coast of England – I was surprised. I was even more surprised when Margot suggested that we went “on surveillance” to see what the hotel was like. She thought we should pose as location scouts for a movie and pretend it would star Johnny Depp. I thought it was a bad idea especially since the hotel wasn’t officially mine yet.
Having done her research she told me all about the tiny island with its dramatic rocky outcrops and dazzling white sandy beaches, the Bronze Age burial sites, romantic castle ruins and the exotic gardens peppered with figureheads of galleons salvaged from the many shipwrecks that littered the surrounding ocean floor. I had to admit that I was intrigued.
The thing about Margot is that she is a force of nature. She’s the eternal optimist and if she had lost a leg, she’d insist that hopping was so much fun and the only way to travel. Margot is not a person to save using the expensive soap for an important occasion. She drinks tap water out of cut crystal glasses and seizes every single day with gusto. In a funny kind of way she reminds me of Robert!
But even Margot had reservations when we made our final approach riding this bizarre contraption called a Sea Tractor – “it’s a hay wagon with a lawn mower engine,” she’d grumbled. We hadn’t realized that the hotel was on a tidal islet and could only be accessed at low tide via a sandbank. Even getting to the Isles of Scilly was complicated enough and involved a two-and-three-quarter hour crossing from the British mainland on a flat-bottomed boat. And yet, the moment we arrived and climbed the steps up to where the old hotel sat on the bluff, I had this overwhelming sensation of peace. I felt I’d come home.
“Never mind,” Margot had declared. “You can always put in a helipad.”
But as it turned out, a helipad would be the least of our problems.
About the Author
Hannah Dennison was born and raised in Hampshire but spent more than two decades living in California. She has been an obituary reporter, antique dealer, private jet flight attendant and Hollywood story analyst. For many years Hannah taught mystery writing workshops at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program in Los Angeles, California.
Hannah writes the Honeychurch Hall Mysteries and the Vicky Hill Mysteries both set in the wilds of the Devonshire countryside where she now lives with her two high-spirited Hungarian Vizslas.
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