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  • Writer's pictureCaitlyn Lynch

Blog Tour and Book Review: A Village Murder by Frances Evesham

A Village Murder

An English village can be deadly, when your past catches up with you...

In the beautiful rural Somerset village of Lower Hembrow, crammed full with English eccentrics, something is amiss... Landscape gardener Imogen Bishop has spent the last thirty years trying to forget one fateful school night but when her estranged husband Greg Bishop is found dead in the grounds of her fathers Georgian hotel, danger threatens to overwhelm her. Retired police officer Adam Hennessey, hoping for a peaceful life running his traditional Somerset country pub, finds himself drawn into the unfolding drama in the hotel across the road. Imogen, Adam and Harley the stray dog form an unlikely partnership as they try to untangle a knot of secrets, solve a murder mystery, and bring a killer to justice.

My Review:

First in a new series of cozy mysteries set in a rural Somerset village, A Village Murder begins at a funeral; that of Imogen Bishop’s father, a larger-than-life figure who owned a country house hotel and was a town councillor for many years. Dealing with your father’s death is difficult enough, but finding your ex-husband’s body in a greenhouse right after the funeral is another level. Imogen’s grateful for the help offered by publican from across the road Adam Hennessy, especially when she discovers he’s a retired police detective with a stellar reputation.

Adam’s retired to run a pub and have a quiet life, but with a murder practically on his doorstep- and he was with Imogen when she found the body - he can’t resist a little bit of quiet investigation on the side. Digging deeper in part by just listening to the talk in the pub, he slowly discovers his sleepy new home might have more than a few secrets… that some people might prefer stay buried.

I liked Adam a lot - he’s not in any way conventionally attractive, being short, fat, grey-haired and in Imogen’s internal description would make an excellent Santa Claus in the right suit - but Imogen was a little bit of a harder sell. We didn’t really get to know her through internal narrative in the same way we did Adam, though she definitely grew on me when she took on stray dog Harley. This is my first book by the author and the first in the series, and I admit I wasn’t really sure after reading this whether Imogen is going to continue being such a ‘main’ character in the narrative of the series. Adam’s the ‘Poirot’ of the series, obviously (he amusingly compares himself to Poirot when noting his physical characteristics at one point) but I don’t know where Imogen really fits in - central character or just the primary surviving victim of this particular story?

There’s a reasonable-sized supporting cast, but I think the author falls a little too much into the trap of not wanting to give away the answer too soon. Which is all very well, but if you don’t actually put enough clues in the text, you deny the reader the ‘Aha!’ moment, where the reader either gets to realise they were right in their assumption because they were clever enough to pick up the clues, OR realise that the author outsmarted them BUT the clues were there to be found. That’s sort of the point of a mystery… and yes, some people will figure it out, but you have to allow that to happen. You can put in all the misdirection and red herrings you want to try and lead them in the wrong direction, but you have to have the real clues there too. Or, like I did, the reader will get to the end of the book and say “Huh. Okay then. Whatever. Didn’t know anything about that person,” and set it aside because I never got the ‘Aha!’ moment.

I quite enjoyed the read, and I liked Adam as a principal character, but I definitely felt cheated by the ending and the failure of the story to leave the ‘trail of breadcrumbs’ for me to follow to solve the mystery for myself along with Adam and Imogen. I’ll give it three stars.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley and Rachel’s Random Resources.

Author Bio –

Frances Evesham is the author of the hugely successful Exham-on-Sea mysteries set in her home county of Somerset.

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