Review: Liar’s Beach by Katie Cotugno

*We received this book in exchange for an honest review.*

Michael Linden is ready to spend some time at his friend Jasper Kendricks’s beach house on Martha’s Vineyard. He’s excited for hanging out with his friend and relaxing on the beach. However, Linden feels like he doesn’t belong. Even though he attends a fancy New England prep school, he’s a scholarship student from East Boston.

Linden does whatever he can to fit in with his wealthy classmates and tries to act just like them. However, it’s not always easy, especially when Linden realizes the rules are different for his friends.

The vacation starts out great. Linden is happy to spend his time there partying, eating great food and flirting with Jasper’s sister Eliza. But everything changes one morning when Linden gets woken up by Eliza’s screams. A guy is floating in the poor in the backyard…and he is unconscious.

To most people, this would seem like a freak accident after the big party last night. But the guy floating in the pool turns out to be Greg, whose family had a falling out with Kendrick family last year. He used to be friends with Jasper and Eliza and still dates Eliza’s best friend Meredith, but everyone else can’t stand him.

Everyone is a suspect to Linden: Jasper, Eliza, their older brother, their parents, Meredith and even Aidy, the girl who Greg cheated on Meredith with earlier in the summer. Even though Linden knows he should leave it alone, he can’t help but start digging.

Enter Holiday Proctor, Linden’s childhood friend, who also happens to be spending the summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Even though they haven’t spoken in years, after running into each other at a party, Linden knows he needs someone to confide in who isn’t involved with the Kendrick family.

Linden just wanted someone to listen to him, but Holiday runs with Linden’s ideas and turns it into an investigation. Now Linden is spending his relaxation time figuring out what really happened to Greg and if his friend had anything to with it.

Liar’s Beach has a great premise and we were excited to see Cotugno write a young adult mystery novel. We’ve read some of her cotemporaries, including 99 Days, 9 Days and 9 Nights, Top Ten and You Say It First, so we were curious about what her first mystery book would be like.

From the description, Holiday was inspired by Hercule Poirot, an Agatha Christie character. However, we didn’t get Poirot vibes from her. We feel like Cotugno tried too hard to make Holiday different from the other rich kids. We also felt like she wasn’t the best detective. It took her a while to figure out who hurt Greg and she had already accused practically everyone else.

Cotugno tried to force a love triangle with Linden, Holiday and Eliza. However, we felt there wasn’t much of a connection between Holiday and Linden. He had much better chemistry with Eliza, who we liked a lot. Eliza was sarcastic and a bit rude at times, but she had been going through a lot. It felt like everyone ended up hurting her, including Holiday and Linden, but not because of the love triangle surprisingly.

Linden was a complex character and Cotugno describes him as a Jay Gatsby figure, who idolized Eliza as his Daisy Buchanan. This was unfair to Eliza because she really did have feelings for him. Also, he said some ridiculous things to her and this wouldn’t have happened if Holiday had actually been a good detective.

Through the characters, Cotugno provides a commentary on wealth and social status. We appreciated how she described how things were different for Linden then for everyone else. However, Holiday judged Linden for being so obsessed with money, when in reality, it just made her sound spoiled. She didn’t understand that Linden felt pressure to fit in with his friends.

As for the plot, the mystery ended up being interesting. While the ending wasn’t completely shocking, it worked in our opinion. Obviously, almost everyone had a reason to want to hurt Greg, which made the mystery intriguing.

Overall, Liar’s Beach was just okay. We really got into the story at the beginning, but the more Holiday played a role, the less we liked the book. The story had a great premise, but it didn’t live up to our expectations.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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