by Sandra Murphy
This week we have another fun group of mysteries for your winter reading-Death at High Tide by Hannah Dennison, Death on the Green by Catie Murphy, Murder at Kingscote by Alyssa Maxwell, and Murder in the East End by Jennifer Ashley. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 4 books and links to purchase them at the end of each review–you may not be able to see the Amazon links if you have ad blocker on.
Death at High Tide by Hannah Dennison
Review by Sandra Murphy
Although Evie Mead married an older man, she didn’t expect her last memory of him to be of him eating cornflakes and reading the newspaper at breakfast. Who has a heart attack while eating corn flakes?
Robert took care of their money and business investments so Evie was shocked when their accountant explained setbacks over the last couple of years had depleted the funds. Robert had left her without money, living in their London home that the bank could well repossess.
Evie’s sister Margot arrives from Hollywood to help Evie. A letter is found that indicates Evie might have inherited an old hotel in the remote Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall. With no other plans until Robert’s money affairs are straightened out, they go to see it. That’s when things really fall apart, including the hotel. It’s gorgeous outside but a 70s décor nightmare inside, with shag carpeting and outdated colors.
Evie and Margot (Margot with Evie going along with it) have made up a story about being a producer and location scout for a new movie. It’s doubtful they’re believed but once committed to the story, Margot won’t back down.
There’s a smart aleck policewoman, a good-looking marine salvage/treasure hunter, a vengeful cook, an elderly receptionist who doesn’t work there, resentful owners, an oddball photographer, and a psychic cat who has his own Instagram account.
When a body is found at the base of a cliff, it’s first thought to be an accident, but upon examination, the rocks wouldn’t have made the wound on the back of the victim’s head. It’s murder. Who easier to blame than the two strangers? Margot counters with “who gains?”
A second murder only makes things more confusing. For such a small island, there are a lot of secrets. The tide controls who has access and when, limiting the suspects to those in the hotel.
Evie may seem quiet and meek at first, but when push comes to shove, and it does, she’s able to call on inner reserves of strength. Margot can be a pain in the behind but mellows. The sisters are good for each other. The quirky inhabitants add a lot of color to the story. Theirs is a fun tale which will leave readers anxious for their next adventure.
This is the first in the series. Look for Danger at the Cove to release in August 2021. Dennison also writes the Honeychurch Hall and Vicky Hill series.
Death on the Green by Catie Murphy
Review by Sandra Murphy
Megan Malone has been hired to drive Martin Walsh and his wife Heather while they are in Ireland for golf tournaments. Martin is hoping for a spot on a Wild Card competition, and Heather is well-regarded player in the women’s league. Megan is Texan, transplanted to Ireland via a dual passport, thanks to her grandfather. As she says, they couldn’t keep her out.
It’s work she enjoys. She gets to see the sights and meet strange and wonderful people. Her boss is a pain, but there are drawbacks to everything. At the moment Megan lives with Mama Dog and two puppies, mostly Jack Russells, one promised to a friend as soon as they’re old enough.
Martin seems charming enough, but Megan notices that Heather acts as peacemaker and lets him have his way more often than not. Megan is invited to walk the course as Martin plays through on his own as a demonstration and a bit of publicity. Heather is at the other golf course where women are allowed to play. Their good friend, Lou, opts to wait at the clubhouse and will meet up with Martin toward the end of the eighteen holes.
When the group tops the hill on the fifteenth hole, they’re shocked to see a body face down in the water hazard. It’s Lou. The Irish waters are icy cold so Megan takes a chance that he’s in shock and can be revived, but it’s a futile attempt. Lou was dead when he hit the water.
On the face of it, in spite of their long friendship, Martin has the most motive to kill Lou but also has a full compliment of witnesses who followed him around the course, oohing and aahing over his every shot. Word travels fast and Heather runs to the scene, sure Martin has been killed.
Megan was on hand when one of her clients died just a month or so ago. Detective Paul Bourke is the only policeman she knows by name so she calls him for help. Megan also gets to meet Lou’s daughter, an environmentalist and pretty good golfer herself. Understandably, she’s a mess and also convinced Martin murdered her dad. Considering she used to call him Uncle Martin, it seems odd, but then, the whole case is odd and only gets worse when there’s another death.
This is an enjoyable series. Megan is someone I’d certainly want for a friend. She knows all the best places to eat, the tourist spots to visit, and takes a genuine interest in her clients. The scenes with Paul, especially when he escorts her to a party a crazy client throws, are filled with humor. The difference between American and Irish wording is also a source of humor and confusion—as in we say pants, they say trousers, we say ride, they say lift, and you see where that could go wrong.
This is the second in the series, the third, Death of an Irish Mummy, due out in June 2021, available for pre-order now. I’m looking forward to it.
Murder at Kingscote by Alyssa Maxwell
Review by Sandra Murphy
It’s the summer of 1899 and the residents of Aquidneck Island are witnessing a life-changing event. It’s the first car parade. Not a race, each car is decorated to the extreme degree with flowers, live birds, and more. Driving a motor car is a new adventure.
Emma Cross, editor-in-chief of the Newport Messenger, is among the viewers. Steering the tiller (no steering wheel) doesn’t always go as planned. Philip King is drunk, a usual pastime of late, and on the obstacle course, crashes his car into a cutout of a nanny pushing a pram.
Emma and her boss and beau, Derrick, are invited to the King’s for dinner. Philip arrives to dinner late, still drunk. However, dinner comes to a halt when the coachman runs in yelling that the butler has been hit by Philip’s car. In fact, the butler is pinned against a tree and near death. Philip swears he didn’t hit the man or tree, but who can believe him when he’s barely coherent?
At first, it’s thought to be an accident, but Emma receives a note that says the butler was a bully and took advantage of the young women who worked in the house. It seems there are more names to add to the list of suspects as far as motive goes. The means of course, is the car. Opportunity is the stickler.
Another annoyance is a woman who claims to be the true heir to the family home and fortune. It’s not exactly clear about her connection to the family, but she’s willing to harass the family until she gets what she wants.
The butler also had links to the local boxing contests where betting was a money maker for some and a source of anguish for others.
This is book eight of the series. Derrick and Emma are a couple, if discreet about it. She’s running the newspaper but longs to investigate and report. Readers of historical mysteries with a bit of romance will enjoy Emma’s evolving life.
Maxwell also writes the Lady and Lady’s Maid series, five in all, and equally enjoyable.
Murder in the East End by Jennifer Ashley
Review by Sandra Murphy
Kat Holloway is a fine cook. She’s also a fine detective. With the help of Daniel McAdam, she’s found herself in several predicaments in the past. When she receives word Daniel would like to see her, it’s at the end of a long day of service—a supper ball arranged with little notice or thought for those who make it possible.
She’s shocked when Daniel introduces her to a vicar and then finds out the man is his brother. The vicar is on the board for the foundling home and has heard children have gone missing. It’s said they’ve been adopted, but checking the addresses where they are supposed to be, he finds empty lots. Worried the children may have been sold for immoral purposes, he’s sought out Daniel’s help. Daniel, knowing Kat can learn a lot talking to other servants, has recruited Kat to help.
As cook, Kat has a better schedule than most servants. She gets a day and a half off each week so she can spend time with her daughter who boards with a family nearby. She also has the freedom to leave the house more easily, with the excuse of shopping for ingredients. When she detours to the foundling home and speaks to the servants there, she learns that a nurse has also gone missing.
In addition to concern about the children, she’s worried about Lady Cynthia who has no money of her own and whose relatives are constantly trying to marry her to a rich but boring man. When the lady of the house is angry that Cynthia visits Kat in the kitchens, Kat’s job is threatened.
Kat is an independent woman forced to live by society rules, much like Lady Cynthia. Class and status matter but it boils down to knowing your place, following the rules, and having money. Usually careful, Kat sometimes finds herself in precarious positions while investigating. With the help of a (mostly) cool head and Daniel as backup, she’s able to keep herself from harm.
Daniel has always been mum about his past and most of his present. He’s a chameleon, appearing as a delivery man, a gentleman invited to dinner, a consultant for the police, a possible agent for the Foreign Service. Who could resist the intrigue, his charm, and good looks? Certainly not Kat although she’s careful to not let him get too sure of himself.
This is an enjoyable series with a look into the past, into the importance of class, and its rules. Readers will enjoy reading about the meals Kat and her assistant Tess make—some sound wonderful, some not so much. I look forward to the next book as Daniel and Kat grow closer.
This is the fourth book (plus an ebook) in the series. All four print versions have been reviewed for KRL. Ashley also writes the Mackenzies series, thirteen in all.
To enter to win a copy of all 4 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “november” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 14, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT MAY TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
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