REVIEW of The Bridge to Belle Island by Julie Klassen

Bridge to Belle IslandAfter Benjamin Booker loses a London court case due to the wiles of a beautiful woman, he’s determined not to make the mistake of trusting easily once again. His episodes of vertigo generally keep him from traveling, but when the retired partner of his law firm is murdered, he cannot refuse the journey to investigate on the isolated Belle Island. Here resides Isabelle Wilder, a woman furious at her trustee’s mismanagement of her estate, a woman responsible for bottling the wine that poisoned her trustee, and a woman whose beauty is tempting Benjamin Booker to turn a blind eye to all of that. Every clue that Ben unearths seems to point in a new and perplexing direction, and while Isabelle’s explanations are plausible, they could also be nothing more than a web of deceit….

Isabelle Wilder hasn’t left the confines of Belle Island in ten years. After the deaths of her brother and parents, she became gripped by a paralyzing anxiety and irrational fear of crossing the bridge that leads away from her home. When the disconcerting Benjamin Booker arrives, Isabelle discovers that she is the prime suspect in a murder investigation. But even though she should greet the lawyer with hostility, there’s something about his stalwart presence that makes her feel…safe. In order to continue caring for her tenants and maintaining her family home, she must clear her name. The only question is: will Benjamin Booker be the one to accuse her or exonerate her?

This mystery had all the twists and turns of an Agatha Christie novel. Klassen always shines with the suspenseful elements embedded in her romances, and I’m glad that she’s written a full-on murder mystery to showcase her talent. Ben was a likable character, struggling with rivalry with his own brother and estrangement from his father. His humiliation in the London courtroom was palpable and an excellent opening scene for the rest of the story. Isabelle was a pleasant and hospitable soul…unless someone tried to cajole her into crossing the river. The night of the murder she suffers a strange dream of being in the very house where the murder occurred–but how is it possible for her to have been in London when she never leaves her island?

This lovely Gothic touch added to the suspense of the story, and there were so many suspects and red herrings that it was almost impossible to guess whodunnit. I do feel like the book could have been a little shorter as it dragged somewhat in the midsection. But all in all, this was a page-turning read from the mistress of Regency romance and suspense.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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