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by Sandra A. Morris
Rising Tide Press, 2000
Review by Su Terry on Aug 5th 2002

By The Sea Shore

Are you seeking a lesbian "cozy" mystery – no blood, guts, or gore, just a hint of sex, a lovable pooch, and lots of food & drink? Then search no more! Sandra A. Morris’ By the Sea Shore is for you. Finally a lesbian cozy that even a grandmother could love!

Sandra A. Morris’ By the Sea Shore takes place predominantly in Provincetown (or “P-town” to the locals) with frequent fly-bys to Boston. Jess Shore, a Toronto based private investigator, has just breezed into town for a little pre-season R&R at her beach cottage and to get reacquainted with her ladylove, Dr. Catherine Hobbes. Unfortunately at Boston’s Logan Airport, Jess gets stuck with taxi duty for Jennifer Eastcott, one very uptight lady, and unbelievably, ends up with her as a houseguest.  Shortly after they arrive at P-town, Sydney Ryan, the proprietor of the Shooting Gallery - a local nightspot, is brutally attacked. At the crime scene, Jess is attacked by, none other than, Tim Ryan, Sydney’s out-of-sight, out-of-mind, soon-to-be ex-husband. As Sydney struggles for her life, the entire Ryan clan has descended upon P-town in mock support of Tim. While Jess tries to find out who is responsible for sending Sydney to the hospital, the Ryans wreak havoc on unsuspecting P-town. Will Jess succeed before the Ryans turn the turn into matchsticks?

The characters that populate Sandra. Morris’ Provincetown, are truly “real characters.” Jess Shore is delightful as the wisecracking PI. (The book is worth reading just for the wickedly funny tongue in cheek turns of phrases.) Jennifer Eastcott is well-portrayed as the prissy lawyer whose blue-blood tends to cloud her mind. Muffin DeWitt, I kid you not on the name, is hilarious as the soon-to-be second Mrs. Tim Ryan. It is interesting to watch this character morph from her image as the spoiled “rich twit” to the strong and intelligent matriarch she will one day become. (Part of my personal reading pleasure was seeing how many different ways the author could poke fun at Muffin’s name.) Tim Ryan clumps through the book as the scion to the Ryan fortune for whom pumping iron might prove to be too intellectually challenging. Mrs. Ryan, Tim’s mom, better known as “garbage mouth” is a real hoot after she “slam backed a few”. MR. Ryan, the over whelmed family patriarch, is wonderful as the hard as nail businessman who just wants to spend some quality time with his granddaughter, Sydney’s daughter, Harley. The rest of the neighbors including the ever-present Buster, the clue finding pooch, add great local color to the story.  

There is little if anything available in print or online about the author Sandra A. Morris. The book blurb states that she lives in the resort area know as “the Beaches” in Toronto and “is hard at work on her second Jess Shore mystery.” (A book, “I” for one am looking forward to reading.)

In conclusion, if you are looking for a cozy mystery or beach book, this a wonderfully delightful light read. It has no gore, no sex, but lots of fun characters and snappy dialog that will have you rolling in the sand laughing your head off.  This is the lesbian mystery genre at its best. I highly recommend this book.


© 2002 Su Terry

Su Terry: Education: B.A. in History from Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from Southern Connecticut State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral Counseling from Fairfield University, a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual Direction from Sacred Heart University. She is a Licensed Minister of the United Church of Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at Dowling College, Long Island, NY. Interests in Mental Health: She is interested in the interplay between psychology, biology, and mysticism. Her current area of research is in the impact of hormonal fluctuation in female Christian mystics.


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