“…a huge flock of widgeon rose to the sky, changing its shape like a dense collection of iron filings pulled by a magnet.”
When the calm of Saxford St Peter is disrupted by a deadly fire at the Old Mill, amateur sleuth Eve Mallow finds herself investigating a most surprising mystery!
Everyone in Saxford St Peter is desperate to know more about Harry Tennant, the newcomer who owns the Old Mill. He usually keeps himself to himself, but he’s finally invited the villagers round for drinks, and Eve Mallow isn’t the only one looking forward to having some questions answered.
But two days before the party, a terrible fire sweeps through the mill, and Harry is found dead. When Eve passes the burned remains of his beautiful house, she can’t resist the call to investigate. Especially when it turns out quiet, charming Harry was living a double life as the famous advice writer Pippa Longford. Eve has to wonder what revelations were contained in the letters he received… and whether one of them was worth killing for.
Accompanied by her reliable dachshund sidekick Gus, Eve starts digging. She soon realises Harry was at the centre of a web of lives – and lies. There’s an uncle desperate to inherit, two women who thought they were his one and only, not to mention everyone who shared their darkest secrets with him. Was one of those strangers much closer to home than Harry knew? And can Eve untangle the truth before she finds herself face to face with a killer?
My second excursion into an Eve Mallow mystery. I did enjoy Book 1, Mystery on Hidden Lane, which as the first of the series developed the character of Eve apparently as by Book 4, there is little further fleshing of Eve as there is of Gus, her companion Dachshund.
I was intrigued in Book 1 by the idea of a freelance obituary writer, an easy cover for her sleuthing activities when something happens. In this entry to the series—the death of a man living in the Old Mill in Saxton St Peter, Suffolk village.
The victim, Harry Tennant, is an “agony aunt,” that is, an advice columnist. Unfortunately, he is passed off as a woman, and very few knew that he is actually Pippy Longford. And fewer still that the local citizens of the community were writing to someone right there in their midst. Interesting premise!
Harry is not a nice man. (“He’d fought bullying by becoming a bully”…and it worked for him.) Heaven knows he has lots of advice—for everyone—about everything. His columns are not always helpful—but, hey, that’s what sells. When his old mill burns down with him in it, it is established that it wasn’t accidental.
I’m not quite sure what to think about Book 4. Obviously, I missed Books 2 and 3, but Book 4 does not redux the character of Eve sufficiently, other than she is still working with her BFF, Viv in her tea shop. Eve takes to discussing the threads of the case with Gus, who eyes her appropriately depending whether or not he gets to go on her interviews.
I had difficulty getting into the rather drawn out plot, well-plotted though it was, just a bit slow for me and my attention lagged more than once. Who knew Tennant’s alter-ego and who was it who might have been harmed by a juicy tidbit he was set to announce at the open house he’d planned to reveal the night following his death?
His isn’t the only body to fall by the wayside in the ensuing investigation and there are a number of red herrings. Eve had a way of seriously ticking off her interviewees, curtailing any further discussion. Several possible perps rise to the top of the list and the atmosphere becomes tense.
Seems the more obvious suspects are too obvious and in the end, the conclusion is enlightening as well as surprising. In the meantime, I enjoyed the little tidbits about the frigid location by the North Sea and the country lanes with their very colorful names: i.e., Blind Eye Lane, Haunted Lane, Old Yard Lane. If you are a fan of the author, I’d suggest you begin this series with Book 1, as I felt a bit lost in Book 4. Must have missed something and perhaps would not function as a standalone.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts.
Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five of Five
Genre: Women’s Detective Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Christian Suspense
- ASIN : B08CBHCRSG
Print Length: 317 pages
Publication Date: To be released December 7, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: Clare Chase writes classic mysteries. Her aim is to take readers away from it all via some armchair sleuthing in atmospheric locations.
Her debut novel was shortlisted for Novelicious’s Undiscovered Award, as well as an EPIC award post-publication, and was chosen as a Debut of the Month by LoveReading. Murder on the Marshes (Tara Thorpe 1) was shortlisted for an International Thriller Writers award.
Like her heroines, Clare is fascinated by people and what makes them tick. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked in settings as diverse as Littlehey Prison and the University of Cambridge, in her home city. She’s lived everywhere from the house of a lord to a slug-infested flat and finds the mid-terrace she currently occupies a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.
You can find Clare’s website and blog at http://www.clarechase.com
©2020 V Williams