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The Beachcomber    by Josephine Cox order for
by Josephine Cox
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2003 (2003)
Paperback, Audio, CD
*   Reviewed by Liz Cooper

Tom Marcus is devastated when his wife and two children are killed by a madman who runs them off the road. Despite attempts made by Tom and the police, the killer is never found. A year later, unable to get past the loss of his family, Tom quits his job and moves away. He ends up in the village of West Bay, where he rents a cottage and does his best to relax and adjust to the slow pace of small-town life.

Kathy Wilson has spent her entire life listening to her mother compare her unfavorably to her sister. The only person in the family who ever loved Kathy was her father. Now that he's dead, she can barely cope with the mean, spiteful comments constantly thrown her way. So when she finds out that her father had been having an affair with another woman in a house he bought under Kathy's name, she is at first appalled, and then relieved that her father found some love in his life. Leaving her job and what's left of her family behind, Kathy moves to West Bay, in search of the happiness her father found there.

I'd like to say that sparks fly when Kathy and Tom meet, but their entire relationship is lukewarm at best. They're intrigued by one another, and then suddenly declare eternal love, but there's never any real emotion behind their actions. Their sudden relationship isn't even fueled by lust ... it simply springs out of nowhere. And while the relationship between the main characters is weak, the rest is just as unbelievable. Sudden, unlikely plot developments occur throughout the novel. Secondary characters lack depth, and their motivations are never fully explained. Some are stereotypically evil (I expected Kathy's mother to rub her hands together and cackle loudly before having Dorothy's house fall on her), and the good guys are so sweet that you can feel your teeth rotting while turning the pages.

However, Josephine Cox does write interesting, realistic dialogue. The only real glimpse inside the characters' minds comes from the way they speak. Each one is unique in terms of speech patterns and accents, and this is where the author's talent shows. A tighter plot and better characterization would have made The Beachcomber a winner. Though the novel's theme of a second chance at love is intriguing, its execution unfortunately falls flat.

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