Your next summer cottage read: Cover Art by Vanessa Westermann

The cover of "Cover Art" by Vanessa Westermann, featuring a red Adirondack chair on a dock, with a blue sky in the background. Photo courtesy Cormorant Books
Our editorial team independently selects these products. If you choose to buy any, we may earn a commission that helps fund our content. Learn more.

Cottage country, chocolate, and murder—what more do you need for a thrilling dockside read this summer? In her new mystery novel, Cover Art, Canadian author Vanessa Westermann offers up all three, packed with surprising twists and even a little romance. 

A cottager herself, Westermann understands life at the lake, and says she tried to evoke a sense of escapism in Cover Art. “My brother and I grew up spending summers in the Kawarthas—eating s’mores around bonfires, diving off the dock, reading thrillers in Adirondack chairs, while watching canoes drift by,” says Westermann. “My own cottage life experiences are infused into the book’s sense of place.”

What’s it about?

Charley Scott, an aspiring artist with a love of hard-boiled crime fiction, quits her job in the city and heads to Oakcrest, a small lakeside town in the Kawartha lakes region, for the summer. Still processing his father’s recent passing, local chocolatier Matt Thorn is trying to piece together clues from his mother’s death eighteen years ago that his dad left behind. Matt and Charley keep running into each other—and flirtation ensues, of course. As Charley prepares to launch a pop-up gallery in town, she becomes increasingly entangled in the drama of the local residents. When one of them turns up dead by way of poisoned chocolate, everyone is a suspect—even Matt. Will Charley’s determination allow her to solve the crime in time to open her gallery? 

Read an excerpt from Cover Art :

“It was murder,” Alex announced. The word pulsed shock waves across the table.

It was the first time one of them said it aloud, though they’d all been thinking it. Charley fought back a shiver.

She sat with Meghan and Alex on the patio of the Blue Heron B&B. They decided to stick to their plan and have dinner out, despite what happened last night. It was that or dig out the two frosted-over boxes of frozen pizza Meghan vaguely remembered buying. Tough choice.

The wrought iron chair was warm from the sun. The air thick with the scent of green herbs and smoke from the charcoal grill.

The restored Victorian farmhouse nestled between maple trees at the top of—well, more of an incline than a hill—just a short drive from Main Street. All around them, flowerpots overflowed with bright blooms. Mason jar lights dangled from wires. The flickering flames danced shadows over the face of the terracotta archer, kneeling between sage and lavender. Past all those green leaves around them, beyond the yellow and red flowering spikes of gladiolus, the lake gleamed, smooth as glass. A white sail flashed. In the distance, a great blue heron rose up from the shore. With slow wingbeats, it flew overhead.

The scene was idyllic. And deceptive. The peaceful lakeside village marred by murder.

This excerpt is taken from the novel, Cover Art, by Vanessa Westermann, published by Cormorant Books Inc., Toronto. Copyright 2022 © Vanessa Westermann. Used with the permission of the publisher.

Featured Video