I am always on the lookout for new (to me) cosy crime books. They are just so comforting and the best kind of relaxation so when I heard about the Mystery Bookshop series by V M Burns I had to try it out. It is set in a mystery bookshop after all!
Samantha Washington has long dreamed of owning a mystery bookstore. And as she prepares for the grand opening, she’s realizing another dream–penning a cozy mystery set in England between the wars. While Samantha hires employees and stocks her shelves, her imagination also gets to work as her heroine, Lady Penelope Marsh, long-overshadowed by her beautiful sister Daphne, refuses to lose the besotted Victor Carlston to her sibling’s charms. When one of Daphne’s suitors is murdered in a maze, Penelope steps in to solve the labyrinthine puzzle and win Victor.
In the meantime, however, the unimaginable happens in real life. A shady realtor turns up dead in Samantha’s backyard, and the police suspect her–after all, she might know a thing or two about murder. Aided by her feisty grandmother and an ensemble of enthusiastic retirees, Samantha is determined to close the case before she opens her store. But will she live to conclude her own story when the killer has a revised ending in mind?
I very much enjoyed this book. It is light, easy reading which is perfect right now. The mystery kept me guessing and I especially loved reading about Nana Jo and the girls. I only hope I’m half as active and resourceful as them when I’m their age!
I hadn’t realised that half of the text would be taken up by the crime novel which Sam is writing. That did throw me a bit to start with but I actually really like the way it was woven into the main plot. There were however some aspects of the portrayal of life in 1930s England which grated and I did feel that perhaps some more research could have been done here.
Overall though, I thought it was a fun book and I will definitely be reading more in the series.
The Plot is Murder by V M Burns
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
I have been a fan of Robin Stevens’ Murder Most Unladylike series for years so, although I am very sad that Death Sets Sail is the last in the series, I was incredibly excited to receive a review copy from Penguin Random House.
The ninth and final novel in the number-one bestselling, award-winning Murder Most Unladylike series.
Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are in Egypt, taking a cruise along the Nile. They are hoping to see some ancient temples and a mummy or two; what they get, instead, is murder.
Also travelling on the SS Hatshepsut is a mysterious society called the Breath of Life: a group of genteel English ladies and gentlemen, who believe themselves to be reincarnations of the ancient pharaohs. Three days into the cruise their leader is found dead in her cabin, stabbed during the night.
It soon becomes clear to Daisy and Hazel that the victim’s timid daughter is being framed – and they begin to investigate their most difficult case yet.
But there is danger all around, and only one of the Detective Society will make it home alive…
I have been waiting for this book for so long that I was afraid I might have built it up too much in my mind and I would be disappointed. I needn’t have worried though – this is a great book which definitely lives up to the rest of the series.
Of course, I am well above the target age for these books but even so I found the plot had a lot of unexpected twists and I only guessed the murderer a few pages before they were revealed. That’s the best kind of mystery – it’s satisfying to be able to work it out but only if it’s right at the last minute! I also loved the fact that the book is set in Egypt and I especially enjoyed the Agatha Christie references.
The characters have grown a lot over the course of the series and I will be sad to see them go. Hazel in particular has developed so much and I found myself cheering for her several times in this one. Robin Stevens has just announced a new series which will begin in 2022 and will focus on Hazel’s little sister May – I will be very much looking forward to that. In the meantime if you haven’t read Murder Most Unladylike yet I would highly recommend giving it a go.
Death Sets Sail by Robin Stevens
I am taking a few days annual leave this week. I have only been back at work for five weeks but it has been exhausting and I was more than ready for the break.
Of course, there are still things I need to get done this week but I was hopeful that I could spend a good chunk of the time reading. So far I have done pretty well and have read two of the Albert Campion series by Margaret Allingham – Traitor’s Purse and Coroner’s Pidgen. I have read both before so knew I would enjoy them and I have been revelling in them.
I would have moved onto the next one but it is new to me and I need to wait until I actually have a copy. Instead, I have been drawn to another cosy mystery – The Plot is Murder by V M Burns. I don’t know a huge amount about this one but it was recommended to me and it is set in a mystery bookshop. How can I not like it?
I have written several times before about my love for audiobooks. Now we are stuck at home with the lockdown my audiobook consumption has reduced somewhat – I can no longer listen on my way to and from work.
I do still listen when I am doing yard chores for the ponies though and also whilst working on my crochet. I love to crochet but normally I don’t tend to make enough time for it. However, as soon as the lockdown started I just wanted to make things – I crochet when we sit down for a cup of tea and a chat and if we watch a film in the evening I am almost guaranteed to be hooking away. Of course, at other times of day, listening to audiobooks is a perfect accompaniment to crafting. It is amazing how quickly a project will progress if you work on it consistently!
All of which means that I am still listening, just in a different way. I am also strictly listening to cosy books – I am currently re-listening to the Needlecraft Mysteries series by Monica Ferris. Set in a needlecraft shop, I discovered them last year and absolutely loved them. This year they are the perfect comfort read and I am so enjoying listening to them. Apparently crime fiction always increases in popularity at times of stress. We love to read books where there’s only one thing wrong – the murder – and that always has a comforting solution. If you are looking for gentle mysteries to read I would highly recommend trying these.
I am just back from a week’s holiday in Dartmouth. I had a lovely, restful time and got to do a lot of reading.
No trip to Dartmouth would be complete without a visit to Agatha Christie’s house Greenway. She described it as, ‘The loveliest place in the world,’ and it really is beautiful. You can see that the views when she lived there must have been amazing, although the trees have grown up a bit now and obscure the view somewhat.
Some of the nicest things about the house are the bookshelves. A great many National Trust houses have libraries which are filled with books bought by the yard – all matching and never read. The books here were completely mismatched and looked very well read which made me so happy. There were naturally many different editions of Agatha Christie’s own books and I fell in love with this little bookcase on the landing. I want one!
Perhaps my favourite thing though was the drawer of imaginatively addressed envelopes which found their way to the house.
Of these, I was especially fond of this one which is just wonderful.
Of course, we had to walk down to the boathouse which features so prominently in Dead Man’s Folly. We had been listening to the audio book on the way down to Dartmouth and I finished it after our visit. I have read it before but it was fascinating to read it again and be able to picture the scene exactly.
Once in the boathouse we spent a long time watching the river from the balcony. It is such a peaceful spot and it is a lovely place to sit. There is a fireplace inside so I should think it would be wonderfully cosy in winter too. Whilst there I also got to sit in Agatha Christie’s own chair – it was made especially for her and she used to sit in it to look over her manuscripts. One couldn’t read anything but Dead Man’s Folly there and there was a handy copy lying on the chair with a useful label pointing me to the relevant pages.
We left by ferry and so walked down to the quay through the woods – the shortcut which so infuriated Sir George Stubbs. It was a lovely day and I’m sure I will be back again in the future.