Review of ‘Mystery At Lovelace Manor’ by Clare Chase

‘Mystery At Lovelace Manor’ by Clare Chase is the eighth in this particular series, but the first for me. It was easy to catch up with the main character Eve Mallow and the backstory of her life and the village. Eve has volunteered to help at Lovelace Sunday, a festival celebrating the romantic history of the the manor and its past inhabitants. But not everything goes to plan. When famous TV historian Cammie Harington is involved in a shocking ‘accident’ Eve feels compelled to investigate. Who could possibly have been involved? And why?

I liked the character of Eve. She played an integral part in her community and was determined and fearless. The mystery was fascinating and kept me interested. There were so many secrets being kept in the village and at the manor, that it was impossible for me to work out whodunnit. Clare Chase has an engaging writing style and has an affinity for her characters. She makes them come alive. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more by this author. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘An English Garden Murder’ by Katie Gayle

‘An English Garden Murder’ by Katie Gayle is the story of Julia, a recent divorcee whose husband has left her for the gardener. Now living in the Cotswolds, Julia is trying to move on and start a new life. A quiet life. But when a body is found buried in her garden a quiet life is the last thing she is going to get. The local police force is spread extremely thin, so Julia finds herself investigating the murder – and becomes embroiled in more than she bargained for. As she gets to know her neighbours, and becomes mum to a wayward puppy, the ex-social worker finds her skills from a previous life in London very useful. Will she be able to catch the killer before anyone else gets hurt? 

Katie Gayle has a delightful touch, marrying the quaintness of village life with humour and kindness. Julia is a likeable character, with determination and grit. She wants to become a part of the community – just not in quite the way it turns out. She has seen everything in her life in London social work, so is not phased when death turns up on her doorstep. This charming and well-written cosy mystery has an ideal setting, believable characters and the potential for many more stories. I really enjoyed it and was delighted to find that there’s more Katie Gayle books in the offing. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Death in Disguise by Emma Davies.

Sometimes a book takes you by surprise. You don’t realise just how enjoyable and satisfying it’s going to be. That’s what happened when I started reading ‘Death in Disguise’ by Emma Davies. Francesca Eve is a caterer and is intrigued by a murder mystery dinner party she caters for a group of female friends. It’s all good fun, even when one of the group has to ‘die’ as part of the game. When one of the women dies later the fun ends. Fran discovers that the victim may not have been all she seemed. In fact none of the guests were. What secrets did they hold – and did those secrets have anything to do with the murder? Fran and Adam join forces to find out the truth before the killer strikes again. 

This was an engrossing mystery that kept me guessing to the end. There were plenty of twists and turns and it was an original and enjoyable story. It got more and more exciting as the story progressed. I loved the dynamic between Fran and Adam. It was an unusual pairing, but one that worked really well. I’m looking forward to more in this new series.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘A Lesson in Murder’ by Verity Bright

‘A Lesson in Murder’ by Verity Bright is Part of a series, but there’s no need to have read them in advance as this works as a stand-alone too.

Lady Eleanor Swift is  back at her old school, St Mary’s,  to give a speech. Her memories were not all good by any means, so being back stirs up some difficult feelings.

She’s a very independent woman for the time and not everyone appreciates that. When the death occurs of her favourite old teacher,  Eleanor is  pulled into the mystery, by virtue of being there, and because of her association with Chief Inspector Seldon in previous adventures. When he turns up to deal with the situation he asks her to go undercover as a house mistress.  Will they be able to find out the identity of the killer in time? Eleanor will have to use all of her know-how about the school to solve the mystery before it’s too late.

I liked the references to her time there and to previous mysteries. The book had a comfortable, cosy vibe, and the reader is made to feel part of it all. Being set in the Golden Age of Crime in the 1920s makes it all the more exciting. I also liked the dynamic between Eleanor , Clifford her butler, and Chief Inspector Seldon. They make a great  team. But most of all, I loved the boarding school setting, partly because I read so many books set in them when I was a child. It felt familiar. Verity Bright succeeded in bringing back those memories and adding her own twist with an engrossing mystery. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Murder in the Village’ by Lisa Cutts

‘Murder in the Village’ is a the first in a new cozy mystery series by Lisa Cutts. Belinda Penshurst has interests in businesses in her small village – one of them the local pub. When a suspicious death occurs there she is pulled into solving the mystery, along with retired police detective Harry Powell, a newcomer to the village. But that’s not the only strange thing going on. Dognappers seem to be targeting the village, and the pair join forces to find out why. And who is involved. 

I must admit I didn’t take to Belinda right away, but as the story progressed I began to see where she was coming from. She appeared bossy and dismissive at first, but there was an element of humour there too. I liked Harry a lot. He was extremely kind and thoughtful, and his influence rubbed off on Belinda. I liked getting to know the village and the inhabitants. I look forward to more in this series.

I was given this ARC to review:

Review of ‘The Bookshop Murder’ by Merryn Allingham

‘The Bookshop Murder’ is an enjoyable cozy mystery set in rural England in the 1950s. Flora Steele owns a bookshop in a quiet village where nothing exciting ever happens. That is until a body is found in her shop. When rumours start flying Flora’s livelihood begins to suffer, so finding out why the body was there becomes vital. With the help of local author Jack Carrington she begins to investigate and finds that her seemingly sleepy village holds a multitude of secrets. 

I love cozy mysteries, so I’m always on the lookout for a new series. This is the first in the Flora Steele Mysteries and I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next. The dynamic between Flora and Jack was engaging. They worked well together and there was a spark of something more. I’d like to see how that pans out in the future. The setting was perfect and the time period made it all the more interesting. A really enjoyable story, with the promise of more to come. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘A Death At Seascape House’ by Emma Jameson

‘A Death At Seascape House’ is set on the beautiful Scilly Isles. That in itself was a bonus for me. I love it when authors take us to wonderful places, and let us see them through their eyes. Jem Jago returns to the islands after many years away. She left under a giant cloud, and going back was never going to be easy. Now a librarian, she has been tasked with the job of cataloguing her childhood friend’s vast collection of books and papers. No sooner has she arrived on St Morwenna, when her arch nemesis, the nasty Mrs Edith Reddy is found dead. And who do all the fingers point at? Yes, you’ve got it, Jem Jago. In a bid to clear her name, Jem must find out who the real culprit is, and battle the prejudices of her former neighbours. 

This story worked because it had a very likeable main character in Jem Jago and a cracking mystery that kept me glued to the page. There were plenty of suspects and secrets galore. I liked how we found out about Jem’s years there as a child and teenager, and found out where the animosities came from originally.  We saw growth in her character, and saw how easy it is to blame, but much harder to rethink and forgive. I enjoyed being with Jem and her fellow islanders and look forward to more in this series. 

I was given this ARC to review.