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  • Scandal at the Salty Dog

  • Secrets and Scrabble, Book 4
  • Written by: Josh Lanyon
  • Narrated by: Matt Haynes
  • Length: 6 hrs and 29 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Scandal at the Salty Dog

Written by: Josh Lanyon
Narrated by: Matt Haynes
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Publisher's Summary

Mystery stalks the cobbled streets of Pirate's Cove. 

Who or what is haunting elderly recluse Juliet Blackwell, what does it have to do with mysterious goings-on at the Salty Dog Pub - and why is any of it mystery bookshop owner Ellery Page's problem? According to sometimes-boyfriend Police Chief Jack Carson, it's not Ellery's problem, and Ellery should stop asking awkward questions before it's too late. 

Ellery couldn't agree more, but it's hard to say no when someone is as frightened as old Mrs. Blackwell. Mrs. Blackwell insists the ghost of long-dead pirate Rufus Blackwell has come to avenge himself on the last member of his treacherous clan. 

Before Ellery can say, "Yikes!" Mrs. Blackwell takes a tumble down the grand staircase of her spooky mansion, and it's up to Ellery to find who is trying to kill his eccentric customer. 

©2021 Josh Lanyon (P)2021 Josh Lanyon

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  • M. J. Hawkins
  • 2021-10-02

So-So Addition to the Series

Okay, I want to start by saying that I've really enjoyed this series. The first three books were entertaining and engaging, and the mysteries were fun. I enjoy the variety of characters (I always do with Lanyon titles) and the setting is charming. All of these are things I typically expect in a Josh Lanyon title. And in all honesty, my feelings about this particular title in the series probably won't stop me from buying the fifth book when it comes out. However, this story did feel... sloppy.

One of the key moments early on in the book involves a woman being taken - against her will - to the hospital in an ambulance. That... doesn't happen. It's not legal. Yes, there are exceptions - but only when it's apparent that a patient's capacity to make decisions has been compromised (i.e. they're unconscious, intoxicated, mentally unstable, etc.) If that was the case with the woman in the book, it's not indicated. After being roused by the MC, she quickly becomes alert and seems to have no issues answering questions or talking coherently. The fact that she's not in her house becomes a plot point later, so it's obvious why it had to happen, but why not just have her lapse back into unconsciousness after her exposition to the MC instead of keeping her lucid?

Another irritation was the MC's complete and utter stupidity when it came to going solo into situations he shouldn't have. A plot device that got him into trouble MULTIPLE times in the last book, and proceeds to get him into trouble at least three times in this one. Can he really just... not learn from past mistakes? Is it that hard? Or is he just that determined to NEVER let the police (or Jack) do what they're supposed to do?

I also wasn't too keen on the odd introduction of another 'romantic interest' into this volume. It just felt... unnecessary. Does Ellery want something more with Jack or not? And why, given the fact he KNOWS things are tentative and new with Jack, is he doing things that will possibly upset that precarious balance? "Are we exclusive?" Ouch! At first I figured it had to be plot-related (which I would've kind of been okay with) but nope; it had no visible bearing on the plot.

And then there was the random bought of drunkenness - at no point during the evening is it mentioned Ellery's drinking too much and/or not eating enough. But suddenly, he's drunk enough to make him speak without thinking? It's not even meant as a plot device; it's just happens. Why? But moments later the drunkenness seems to vanish entirely as Ellery hops into his car and speeds off - suddenly fully in charge of all his thought processes once again.

Finally - the interviews. I can kind of forgive this element a little because Ellery is a 'new' business owner. I can chalk a lot of his applicant issues up to him possibly (hopefully?) not creating a decent application for them to fill out. (EVERY application I've ever filled out asks whether or not you've ever been arrested, for example, but he seems shocked when one of his applicants admits to having been in prison.) Still, to have SO many people apply and to not be able to weed things down to less than 10? Yes - again - new business owner who doesn't know what he's doing, I guess? But to have ALL of them except one be so off-the-wall 'NO!s' felt a little contrived. And the one 'Yes!' - Ellery mentally expresses reluctance in the applicant's age, worrying the person won't be able to physically keep up. Every job I've applied for where bending, stooping, kneeling, climbing, lifting, etc. were requirements the employer always made sure to specify those requirements and make sure I understood the physical needs of the job. (And if I got the job, I often had to have a physical to prove it.) Ellery doesn't bother. He worries about it, but says nothing and hires the man anyway. And you can't tell me there weren't more high schoolers who'd want a job that's not fast food or grocery - especially on an island with so few options. Anyway, given what was said about the man, I can only assume he's part of some future plot point - but this still felt like a sloppy way to introduce him.

All of that said, the mystery itself was interesting. Josh Lanyon does good mysteries. Always has. So, like I said above, I'm sure I'll be buying the fifth book when it comes out. Whether I buy any beyond that will depend a lot on whether or not the writing feels tighter in the next one. Not even a well-planned mystery can carry a story if the writing isn't consistently strong enough to help bear the weight.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Happy
  • 2022-06-09

Loving this series!

am I the only one that thinks Nora sounds like Linda Belcher from Bob's burgers
once you hear it, you can't unhear it lol

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • TLD
  • 2022-01-16

Entertaining enough

I haven't listened or read the previous books in the series. I kept meaning to stop and return the book for lack of interest but it got better - still not excellent. Matt Haynes' performance is very good.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Aethena Drake
  • 2021-08-09

Good story. Good narration.

This was another enjoyable addition to the Secrets and Scrabble series.

Mysterious deaths, secret tunnels, ghost sightings, a bookseller turned reluctant sleuth, small town gossip, and old buildings with secret passages are all piled together on a coastal island famous for being the home of renowned pirates. What else could a cozy mystery possibly need? Entertaining dialogue, a dash of romance, and a cute puppy.

Like all the other volumes of this series, the rhythm of the storytelling is strangely soothing for a murder mystery, and the author continues to leave enough teasers in each book to keep the reader anticipating the next book.

The narration was well suited to the characters and the story, and adds an extra dimension to the story.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Victor C.
  • 2021-08-03

It keeps getting better!

Enjoyed every bit of it! love the development in the romance and the mystery kept me intrigued the whole time.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • W.
  • 2021-08-01

Loved it

This series gets better with each new book.

Matt Haynes narration was wonderful as always.