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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
The most difficult decision to make when reading Surf And Sand: The Girl In The Seaside Hotel by W.B. Edwards is whether one most appreciates the beautiful, literary writing of this excellent author, or if one is even more intrigued by the incredibly subtle mystery embedded in this captivating story. It is a given that the main character, young Nell, will thoroughly steal your heart without return. The quality of writing and storytelling reminds a reader of the immensely popular and appealing book: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, and Surf And Sand does not suffer a whit in the comparison. A tremendous accomplishment, and truly award-deserving.
Mary Nell Morgan (Nell) is the precocious and hugely endearing young girl who occupies center stage in Surf And Sand, and W.B. Edwards never misses a detail when bringing her vividly and lovingly to life. “Nell had preferred running around outside with the boys, even if it did mean getting killed all the time.” As this suggests, the compelling strength and deep intrigue behind the strangely muted mystery central to Nell’s musings and pursuings – the unsolved disappearance of one young girl almost twenty years ago, and a very similar current disappearance from the same California seaside hotel – lie in Mr. Edwards' impeccable ability to reveal each character’s onion’s-worth of layers and subtle meaning. In other words, these fascinating characters are the red herrings of this mystery, and a mesmerized reader will find himself jumping monkey-like from one conclusion to another, all the while beguiled by a most beguiling child. Surf And Sand is for those who immerse themselves close to drowning in their reading, and worship the invigorating breath they take upon resurfacing.