I love crime and mystery novels and have done ever since being brought up on the mystery and adventure stories of Enid Blyton as a child. I enjoy the whole range including authors such as M W Craven and Robert Bryndza but I also like a gentle cosy crime mystery sometimes. It’s nice to have a relaxing read after some of the grittier novels around. I seem to have a read quite a few lately so I thought I would do a post containing 3 shortish reviews of my recent reading.
All three books were provided to me as ARCs by Net Galley and the publishers but my opinions are entirely my own.
Death at the Auction by E C Bateman
Set in the historic town of Stamford, this murder set in the antiques trade is a brilliantly plotted mystery. Felicia Grant rushes to Stamford to run her father’s auction one Saturday after he fell over the cat and broke his leg. The auction is proceeding normally until things are disrupted by her ex-husband suddenly appearing on the scene and the discovery of a dead body in a wardrobe. After that inauspicious start, life gets even more complicated for poor Felicia who finds that she is not only a suspect in the investigation but also that there seem to be attempts being made on her life.
It’s less of an amateur sleuth mystery than some cosy crime novels as the local police are definitely in charge including the almost sinister Inspector who has the extremely inappropriate name of Heavenly. However, despite threats to her safety, Felicia is unable to keep out of the investigation and she is the one to find the key to everything that has gone on.
I really enjoyed this crime story. The antique trade is a great set up for a murder mystery with plenty of eccentric characters to add local colour. The characters of Felicia and her son and ex-husband are interesting and I enjoyed the family dynamics between them. There is a fair amount of humour interspersed with the drama and plenty of red herrings to keep the reader on their toes. I love novels when I can visualise the setting and the town of Stamford is vividly described which was a real plus for me.
I can definitely see this series being one that I need to look out for.
Death at the Auction is published by One More Chapter on 24th November 2022
Waste of a Life by Simon Brett
I love Simon Brett’s crime mysteries and this relatively new series is a great addition to his books. A Waste of a Life is the third in the Decluttering series but I think that you could easily read it as a stand alone.
Ellen’s job as a declutterer takes her into people’s houses and these people are often elderly or vulnerable so possibly easy victims. This time she goes and works at the house of Cedric who has become a recluse after the death of his wife. On one of her regular visits, she discovers him dead in bed. Ellen assumes that he has died of natural causes but the post mortem reveals traces of poison and the police become involved. Ellen is also working at the house of Mim, a retired school teacher who led a very active social life in the 1960’s. At first Mim and Cedric appear to have nothing in common but gradually a link appears between them.
I really enjoyed this mystery. There were a lot of twists and turns which kept me interested and I liked the host of secondary characters. This is a cosy crime novel but Simon Brett still keeps us in touch with reality. Mim increasingly suffers from dementia and there are several characters in the book with mental health problems including both of Ellen’s children. The book is set very firmly in the city of Chichester which is another thing that I love about it. I always enjoy it when I can visualise where characters are in a book.
Waste of a Life is published by Severn House on December 6th 2022
An Act of Foul Play by T E Kinsey
This is the ninth outing for Lady Emily Hardcastle and her maid Flo and the setting is now 1911. Lady Emily is at the theatre for a birthday treat with her maid and partner in crime solving Flo, when a murder occurs. As the curtain rises for the second act of a comedy, one of the actors is discovered on stage having been stabbed to death.
I have enjoyed the previous books in this series and this one felt like discovering old friends. The dialogue between Lady Hardcastle and Flo is still as sharp as ever and they are joined this time by Flo’s identical twin sister which adds to the fun.
The plot was an interesting one and I loved the theatrical theme. The usual characters were joined by the members of the theatrical company with lots of red herrings being scattered around as Emily and Flo try to discover who had a motive for the killing. As usual, a lot of time is spent on the details of their normal lives which I normally enjoy. However, I felt that this time, the murder mystery was almost secondary and there seemed to be little tension or impetus to find the identity of murderer.
It’s a fun read for lovers of this series but I don’t think that it is one of the author’s best.
An Act of Foul Play is published by Amazon Publishing on 29th November 2022
Do you enjoy cosy crime series or would you rather read the likes of M W Craven? Or maybe, like me, you enjoy both. Let me know 😃