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 Fatal Night’ by Faith Martin

‘A Fatal Night’ by Faith Martin is the second book I’ve read in this series, and I’m growing very fond of WPC Trudy Loveday and Coroner Dr Clement Ryder. The young police officer and elderly county coroner make an interesting pair, and their methods and investigations make for fascinating reading. This story is set over Christmas and New Year of 1962, when a ‘big freeze’ stopped Britain in its tracks. Snow and ice blocked the roads and many died. And it is one of these deaths that Trudy and Clement seek to investigate. As with any investigation, lies abound, and it is up to them to get to the truth and find the killer. 

I really like the dynamic between the two characters. The blend of youthful enthusiasm and a determination to learn, with the experience and wisdom of someone who has seen it all, really works. The setting of 1960s Oxford is also very appealing, as it gives an insight into the time, as well as the problems faced by a young woman in the police force back then. I enjoyed the story immensely, and it is exactly the kind of cosy mystery I want to read in these times. However unsettled it may seem for us in real life,  you can always count on a cosy mystery. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Murder at the Wedding’ by Helena Dixon

Murder at the Wedding by Helena Dixon

What murder mystery fan doesn’t love a country house murder? ‘Murder At The Wedding’ ticks all the boxes and more. 

Kitty Underhay is invited to the wedding of her cousin Lucy, and with her maid Alice, travels to Yorkshire for the event. Talk of a ghost in the country pile intrigues her, but it seems there’s more danger than she thinks lurking in the wings. When events turn deadly Kitty steps in. With the help of her private investigator beau, Matt, she aims to find out who is behind the strange goings-on before anyone else is hurt. 

I enjoyed the writing style and the atmospheric setting of the story. The introductions of the various characters in the house were wonderfully descriptive and made me feel as if I was back in the past with them. 

Teasing out the motives worked well too,  and the insight into life for women of the era was fascinating. We saw how Kitty was underestimated by the police, but not by her family and especially not by Matt. I thoroughly enjoyed this perfect cosy mystery.

I was given this ARC for 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 ‘The Bath Conspiracy’ by Jeanne M Dams

The Bath Conspiracy by Jeanne M Dams is an engaging cozy mystery set in the beautiful English city of Bath, Somerset. Dorothy and her ex-Chief Constable husband Alan are in the habit of getting caught up in mysteries, wherever they go. This time they must clear their names when some loot is found in the boot/trunk of their car. Everything seems tied to the tourist industry of the area, which involves the healing waters and nearby Stonehenge. Can they find out the real culprits before it’s too late – and before things escalate?

Although this is book 24 in the series, I had no problem jumping right in at this point. There is no need to have read any of the previous books to understand this one. I liked that the story centred around an older retired couple and how they used their experiences of life and work to solve the case. The supporting characters were also appealing and there was a lovely family feel about them all. It was also lovely to follow them on their holiday in Bath and to find out about the city and its attractions. An enjoyable way to pass a few hours in the company of a liveable sleuthing couple.

I was given this ARC to 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.

Review of ‘Reserved for Murder’ by Victoria Gilbert.

I adore a cosy mystery – especially one that is done well. ‘Reserved For Murder’ is entertaining, has great characters and a wonderful setting. Charlotte Reed runs the Chapters B&B she inherited from her great aunt. The local book club meets there in her extensive library, and when a world famous author is booked in as part of her tour, Charlotte is delighted. A select few super-fans are booked in too as part of a prize, but when the president of the fan club is found dead, Charlotte and her neighbour Ellen must try and solve the mystery.

This was exactly the kind of mystery I want to read as I while away a few hours relaxing in the garden. It reminded me of the feeling I get when reading an Agatha Christie. It was the perfect small-town mystery, with enough twists and turns and a myriad of suspects, to keep my brain trying to work out whodunnit. I loved the dynamic between Charlotte and Ellen, her elderly neighbour, and the book club members and locals added extra flavour. I look forward to reading more in this series.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Death Before Dessert’ by A.E. Radley

‘Death Before Dessert’ is a feel-good kind of book. You can’t fail to be drawn in by the setting, excellent plot and loveable characters. A cozy mystery set in a small English village, it features a new dynamic duo, Clara Harrington and her irrepressible aunt, Vanessa. Clara has left London after losing her job and home all in the one week. Her mystery writer aunt has offered her a place to stay and the chance to take stock. But one thing she didn’t expect was a murder in the country house next door – and an elderly relative determined to solve it before the police.

I loved Vanessa’s gleeful demeanour. She had a wicked sense of humour and loved a good real-life mystery. There was no way Clara was going to stop her investigating when her reviled next-door neighbour dies in the middle of a dinner party. Clara was sweet and kind and prone to blushing profusely when in the presence of a certain beautiful woman. The inter-generational element to the investigate partnership was a winner. A series with this pair is going to be wonderful and I can’t wait to read the next in the series. A.E. Radley has given us cozy mystery at its best. Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review.

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