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A Perfect Hideout: Finding Love and Evading Villains at an Old-Style Florida Motel

It seems like a good time for a book to distract us from the height of hurricane season. A good, easy-going choice is The Newcomer, by Mary Kay Andrews.

True, it starts out with a murder. So, you’re hooked from the get-go. But from there, it’s a pretty gentle dog-paddle to a satisfying conclusion.

There’s a likable heroine and her adorable four-year-old niece, a heroic love interest, a warm mother figure, several eccentric supporting characters and a couple of despicable villains. They all converge at a charming throwback of a mom-and-pop beach resort near St. Pete.

The colorful Murmuring Surf Motel on Treasure Island is just the sort of backdrop this story deserves. Letty Carnahan flees for the motel after finding her secretive sister’s body in her fashionable Manhattan apartment. A faded magazine story about the Murmuring Surf among her dead sister’s belongings points her to the Florida beach town. She grabs her niece and runs.

Letty finds a room and a job, and eventually a makeshift family, at the motel, where she hides out while trying to solve her sister’s murder. Letty herself is one of the prime suspects.

Letty is certain the murderer is her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Evan, and she plans to bring him to justice. Evan is a crooked real estate tycoon who rings all the right warning bells to be an evil adversary. Or could it be another ex-boyfriend, Rooney, who is lurking at the motel and is just bad news all the way around?

It just so happens that the son of the Murmuring Surf’s owner is a local cop, who falls hard for Letty. He starts to figure out her story and is working behind the scenes to help her. An undercover FBI agent arrives on the scene, hoping to take Evan down, but also threatening to arrest Letty if she doesn’t cooperate.

Sprinkled into the story are a mish-mash of grumpy but good-hearted Florida snowbirds who inhabit the Murmuring Surf and look upon Letty, the newcomer, with a heavy dose of suspicion.

 Andrews is the queen of beach reads, and this one lives up to her reputation. You pretty much know that this story is headed to a happy ending, but there is just enough suspense to keep you turning the pages.


Mary Kay Andrews will be appearing on Sanibel along with authors Patti Callahan and Kristy Woodson Harvey on October 25 at 5 pm. For more info, see