An entertaining whodunnit
Thank you to Bookouture for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.
Seasoned obituary writer Eve Mallow has a new assignment: to tell the life story of famed musician Bernard Fitzpatrick. A chance to spend a few days in the sweet little village of Saxford St Peter, walking the country lanes with her beloved dachshund Gus and meeting new people sounds like a dream. But it turns out that Bernard’s life was much less interesting than his death. On the day she arrives, news breaks that the charismatic cellist was the victim of a grisly murder. Could this quaint English village be hiding a dark secret?
As Eve starts to interview Bernard’s friends and colleagues, she finds that he’d ruffled a few feathers. In fact, from the keepers of the Cross Keys Inn to his own staff at High House, there’s barely a person in town who doesn’t have some reason to hate him… is one of the friendly villagers a cold-blooded killer?
Eve hoped Saxford St Peter would be the perfect escape from her busy city life. But there is darkness even in the most sunlit of settings. And when a second body is found, Eve becomes certain that one of the people she’s met must be the murderer. She has never done any detective work before… but is there something in her notes that can crack the case?
This is a very classic mystery in the style of Marple or Midsomer. A beautiful rural setting, small village gossip, a “genteel” murder (and by that I mean the death doesn’t involve gallons of blood and serial killers) … you know what to expect! So if you usually enjoy this sort of classic whodunnit, I highly recommend this book.
Eve is a likeable protagonist and the idea of her being an obituary writer is ingenious. Her profession means she has a legitimate reason to poke around asking everyone questions about their relationship with the deceased. This means her interactions with the other characters feel natural and logical rather than contrived and forced.
The mystery is handled well and left to unfold gradually. The essential ground work is laid subtly in the early chapters meaning I was able to figure out the murderer’s identity just before Eve did. I always think this is exactly how the best murder mysteries are structured: they’re written in such a way to allow the reader to keep up with the fictional sleuth and so share the satisfaction of their big “a-ha!” moment. There’s nothing worse than getting to the reveal and thinking, “What the heck?!”. If the writer has done a good job, it should all make sense, and it truly does here.
And if you need further encouragement to read this book, it also features a lovely village setting and a cute dog!
You can see lots of foundations being laid in this book to support future installments, including the introduction of secondary characters with their own mysterious pasts, possible hints at future romantic attachments, and drama with Eve’s family. I’m sure the author has lots planned for Eve in the future and the second book, Mystery at Apple Tree Cottage, is being published on March 12. So this would be a great time to start the series at the beginning and be able to read straight on to book 2.
Overall: If you like classic murder mysteries you should definitely seek out Mystery on Hidden Lane. The Eve Mallow murders promises to be a very entertaining series.