A Time to Swill by Sherry Harris

A time to swim by bestselling author Sherry Harris is the second book in her new Chloe Jackson, Sea Glass Saloon Mystery series, in which an abandoned ship with a skeleton on board reopens a decade-old missing person that bartender nonsense Chloe has to whiz out before more violence hits her idyllic town of Emerald Cove in Florida.

This thrilling second installment of the Chloe Jackson, Sea Glass Saloon Mystery series finds our fearless heroine out on a brawl one morning at the beach near her home in Emerald Cove, Florida. Ironically, the mist that rolled in from the bay has obscured most of her sight, but lifts just enough for her to see what looks like an abandoned ship on shallow surfaces. She immediately calls the floating ship to the local authorities, who ask her to stay seated to help them track the place. However, when she hears what she thinks is the sound of a crying baby on board, she does not hesitate to swim out to rescue the one who may be in danger, and accidentally lost her phone along the way.

It turns out that the crying came from a cat, but Chloe decides to check out the rest of the ship if there are people on board as well and need help. To her horror, she discovers a human skeleton in one of the cabins. Even worse, the ship is detached from the sand bar it was stranded at and starts quickly on its way back to the sea.

Close up, the ship is in even worse shape than Chloe expected. When she finally gets the generator up and running enough to communicate and contact the Coast Guard, disaster strikes again.

“There is a dead body. I think it’s a woman. And I’m not an expert, but I would say she’s been dead for a while. ” […] My nose itched and I turned. Smoke rods curled up from the hatch where the generator was. A flurry of smoke rose as my eyebrows raised in alarm. I whirled back to the radio.

“May day. The boat is on fire. Leaving ship.”

“Chloe -”

I picked up the cat and ran up the stairs to the deck, I heard one whip, and flames shot up and out. I did not have time to look for a lifeboat or life jacket. Flames chased us.

“Sorry about that,” I said to the cat. I took a running start and jumped.

And that’s only the beginning of Chloe’s latest adventure, as she puts herself into life as a half-owner of the Sea Glass Saloon, bequeathed to her along with a house and a boat by her best friend, Boone, sadly leaving way too soon. After being rescued from the water, she discovers that the Good Samaritan who led her and the cat back to shore appears to be a ghost. Of even greater concern is the fact that the few things she managed to save from the ship point to the skeleton belonging to Raquel Harrison, the former wife of Chloe’s good friend Ralph.

More than a decade ago, Raquel had gone with several friends to what they thought would be a quick afternoon cruise. They never came back. The ship and its passengers had disappeared, as if they had slipped into the Bermuda Triangle. Ralph and his current wife, Delores, were considered persons of interest in the disappearance, both at the time and seven years later, when Ralph requested that Raquel be declared legally dead. Chloe’s discovery resumes the case and puts Ralph under suspicion again. Chloe knows that Ralph would not harm a fly, but the more she looks at the matter, the more she discovers that not everyone in her idyllic coastal community is trustworthy.

First and foremost among them is Steve Kincheloe, Boone’s deadly father. A bad wind has blown him back to town with a claim on her house that lifts up Chloe’s entire world.

He looked at me as if he was pitying me. “Of course [your house is] not for sale. Boone handed the place over to me along with his boat and half the Sea Glass. Steve took a step closer to me.

“Boone would never do that.” I kept my soil that I had in the sea glass, even though inside I staggered more than the oat gardens in a stiff breeze. “You were nothing to him. At best, a sperm donor. A negligent, absent father at worst. He left everything to me. “I almost clapped my hands to my mouth. I was usually not evil.

Chloe will find herself doing many unusual things as she struggles to prevent her inheritance from being stolen under her while she seeks to purge Ralph’s name and find her savior in the process. It’s also great to see her collaboration with Vivi and Anne, two of Emerald Cove’s most formidable women, put an end to the various villains who plague their communities and ensure that justice is done.

I really enjoyed the many actions derring-do that had A time to swim feel less like a cozy than a more traditional tale of revelation, with Chloe almost like an adult Nancy Drew. Like her teenage predecessor, Chloe is an amazing heroine: realistic, relatable and brave. She can sometimes lose her temper and take risks, but she always feels like a real person rather than just a character doing silly or ruthless things to promote the action. I can not wait to read more of her exploits, especially with the wonderful way this novel ended, and covered an intriguing fairy tale with the perfect amount of romance.

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