Murder at Wrightsville Beach (Magnolia Mystery Series) is a story set in a small North Carolina coastal town near Wilmington. Funnily enough, the main character Ashley Wilkes is a girl, and if the name reminds you of the slightly insipid spineless character of Ashley Wilkes from Gone With the Wind, you are bang on target. She is named thus by her mother, who has a passion for Southern living.
Ashley and Melanie Wilkes are sisters. Ashley restores old houses while Melanie is a top notch realtor. They have rented a large beach front cottage and have a house party made up of super model Kelly and a bunch of men. The book begins with the murder of local gallery owner Valentine who was a popular local figure. An expensive work by local artist JC is missing along with all paintings. Ashley is pursued by Casanova Devin, protected by friend Jon and ignored by husband Nick.
As more bodies drop and mishaps occur, Ashley is busy restoring the Fields’ historic mansion. But has she dug a bit too deep for her own good? Is a past secret causing the murder rampage? Or is money the only motive for the crimes. Is Ashley’s husband really working undercover or has he fallen prey to the same attacker?
This is a wonderful beach read or summer read. Actually, I would enjoy this book anytime. Visions of beach front digs, fresh seafood, seaside restaurants etc. are a definite plus. People familiar with the Carolina coast will love to read this account of lazy summers. And those living inland will hanker for it. Murder at Wrightsville Beach is surprisingly good and unassuming, and I look forward to reading more of these Ashley Wilkes mysteries.