I just finished these three mysteries, two cozies and a thriller novella. Arson and Old Lace is the first in the Far Wychwood Mystery series. I had already read the second one and there are no others. Here we meet Catherine Penny, a recent divorcee who just relocated to Far Wychwood, England to live her dream life in an English village close to where her married daughter lives. The mystery surrounds an elderly man, who is Catherine’s neighbor and also the village pariah due to some old suspected criminal activity. Catherine gets involved in his life and his death. She is a bright but impulsive sleuth and hurtles herself headlong into solving the mystery. Well written mystery plot, charming setting and great cozy feel to it… think Agatha Raisin with an American twist. I really liked both books in this series and am sorry that there were not more.
Be Careful What You Hear by Paul Pilkington is a very short novella. I should be up front and admit that I am not a big fan of mystery novellas in general so I want to be as fair as possible reviewing this. Georgina Adams has a new infant son and a husband and has been weathering a particularly bad case of Post Partum Depression. She overhears something in a half asleep state and due to her recent medical history doubts herself. Did she hear it? Does it mean what she thinks? Who can she trust? I don’t want to to say too much more because it will give too much away. Here is my issue: (and this may just be my own preferences) the main character is fully fleshed out, the premise is scary and definitely engaging, the plot is well thought out and timely, and the tension building is great, but it is just too damn short. This book racks in at just 77 pages and there was clearly enough going on here for a full length novel. The short length makes it seem rushed and it is a shame that such a good idea was not explored fully.
To Sketch a Thief is the second book in the Portrait of a Crime series. Here we welcome back the unusual partnership of Zeke and Rory, now joined by a canine sidekick, Hobo. Rory and Zeke’s PI business is up and running and they are hired to look into a series of widespread dognappings. While the dog nappings are what they were hired to solve, the murder is related. There are lots of suspects and dogs here, so multiple crimes to consider. Detailed investigation work is shown here, with Zeke and Rory looking for connections and following leads. There are also snippets of Zeke’s last case and his murder, which Rory is also trying to solve.
I enjoyed the first book in this series a great deal and I will read the the third and final? book as well. I had one small complaint with this one and that had to do with Rory’s seeming animosity towards Zeke. I felt she was harsh at times and she even seemed to acknowledge that. Friendly bickering is one thing but this seemed off the mark. Still a solid cozy mystery read and great premise!