This is the first in my Mini Book Reviews series – welcome! You should know, going forward, that I take approximately three times as long as the average person to read a book and I do tend to place some importance on the cover. You have been warned.
We start with what is one of my favourite niches in the light-hearted detective (or cosy mystery) genre – a Christmas tale! I love anything set at Christmas, and always try to read something festive around the holiday season. I also LOVE a cosy mystery, so you may see a few of these…let’s begin!
Genre: (Cosy) Mystery/Detective
Title: Murder at the Old Vicarage
Author: Jill McGown
Series: Lloyd & Hill (no.2)
No. of pages: 240
Plot Summary: It’s Christmas and a murder has occurred at the Old Vicarage! The vicar’s son-in-law is the victim! Has there been a family argument? Has an intruder entered the fray? Cue Inspector Lloyd and Sergeant Hill, only they can get to the bottom of this nasty business. Havoc is caused by a blizzard, and there are red herrings a-plenty. Can they work out who did the deed before someone else bites the dust? And will their tangled love affair threaten the path to justice? O come, all ye faithful, and find out what was stirring at the Old Vicarage on the night before Christmas…
Strengths: The setting of a rural 1980s village crossed with the Golden Age thematics of an Agatha Christie-style mystery work well. The characters are interesting as there is more to them all than initially meets the eye. Motives are unclear and words not necessarily trusted, which is standard for a mystery novel. The characters were well rounded in most cases, and I wondered what became of them after the story ended, which to me is a good sign the author has successfully engaged the reader. The lack of a main narrator, along with lots of twists and turns, keeps you hooked to the end. There was a definite eeriness throughout which worked well. This was especially true of the description of the castle location, the isolation of which was heightened by the festive timing.
Weaknesses: The ending seemed a bit rushed to me, given the delicate drawing out of the various plot points beforehand.
Verdict: Worth a shot if you are a cosy fan. I am usually a stickler for reading a series in order, but didn’t with this one and it didn’t affect my enjoyment (though annoyed me to know I’d mucked up the order of play!).
Have you read this book? Do you want to? Can you recommend any books I may like to read next? Get in touch below!