Today’s review is from a familiar author, but in an unfamiliar genre for them. I’ve reviewed previous books by this author (all of which you can find on the blog), so when this book popped up I couldn’t turn it down. Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for having me on the tour and sending me a copy of the book to review.
The Book: Once Upon A Crime…
Nancy Hunter and her grandmother Jane Hunter run the Dedley Endings Bookshop, selling crime, thriller and mystery books, in a small, quiet Cotswold village where nothing ever happens…
That is, until the wealthy and reclusive Roth family open up their mansion for the first time in twenty years, inviting the people of Dedley End to a lavish engagement party.
While everyone is thrilled to finally look around the mansion on the hill, the festivities are quickly cut short when beautiful Lucy, recently married to young Harry Roth, is found dead after being pushed over the first-floor balustrade.
But who among the guests could have been capable of her murder – and why?
Nancy and Jane decide to investigate – after all, not only do they own a crime themed bookshop, they were also both named after famous literary detectives – but soon wonder if they’ve taken on more than they can handle. Especially when it seems the killer has worked out that they’re hot on their heels…
Can they catch the murderer before the murderer catches up with them? Or will there be a deadly ending to this story?
The Review: I found the premise of this book intriguing, after all I’m sure there are lots of crime fiction fans who think they could solve a murder so having crime bookshop owners do the same is not surprising.
I loved the bookshop and Nancy and Jane, and even to some extent Jonathan, though I found him a little irritating at times (but I think that might just be me). The story was really good and there were moments of genuine peril and worry that had me almost shouting, or whispering loudly, to get them to rethink what they were doing. Although having said that, what they did is probably what I would have at least considered doing myself if I was in their position.
There was a reasonable number, but quite contained cast of characters, some from the village and those in the house. This fitted well with the story and is what you’d find in setting like an Agatha Christie or Murder She Wrote. It’s something that works well in those and worked equally well here. The village characters clearly connect in various ways with Jane and Nancy and the characters in the house are there because they are all possible murderers, given the circumstances of the death.
The book definitely, for me, comes under what I would call cosy crime. There’s enough risk and peril for it to be potentially risky investigating but between the bookshop and the cottage where Nancy and Jane live there’s definitely a cost vibe. Because the two share a house we get to spend a lot of time there drinking tea (a frequent feature and solution for all ills) and discussing the murder and other dilemmas in life, as the murder isn’t the only thing happening at that time.
I really liked this book. It was a good combination of detection and normal life events. The main characters were good and people I’d happily spend time with and I liked the setting. The bookshop sounded lovely and the village was what you’d want in a small village, with the amenities and the atmosphere that it had.
I believe there are more books to come, and this is to be a series rather than a one off and, if that’s correct, I’m excited to see what happens next and follow Nancy and Jane on their next adventure.
Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She’s the author of the bestselling GLENDALE HALL series, which continues with its third book HOPEFUL HEARTS at GLENDALE HALL in September, as well as two other standalone novels – SUMMER at the KINDNESS CAFE, and THE SECOND LOVE of my LIFE. She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for two RNA awards. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.
Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.