A Trip to Wales

Who would have thought I might want to read a book on my Nexus while having my Pixel computer open in my lap at the same time? Well, perhaps anyone who, while reading a book, actually hears many of the words, or at least the dialogue, in their head while they’re reading.

What does that have to do with it, you ask? Well this particular book takes place in a small village in Wales, with a cast of characters which include several Welsh people. If you’ve ever seen Welsh written, you know the alphabet looks similar to the English alphabet, but with combinations that may look totally foreign There are many words where what appear to be consonants are in combination, creating a word that looks unpronounceable.

Since I’m trying to figure out how to pronounce the name of the village where the story takes place as well as some of the people’s names, I turned to the computer and Wikihow for help. Turns out some of the letters in Welsh that appear to be consonants are actually vowels in the Welsh language. Unfortunately, my brain kept leaking in terms of what those were, so I decided to read the book while I kept the computer open for reference. It’s not something I would recommend, but neither would I say don’t do it. Rather, do what helps increase your enjoyment of the book and enjoy the book I did. For my review, read on.

REMEMBERING THE DEAD is the tenth in the Penny Brannigan series by Elizabeth J. Duncan and my first time reading a book in the series. While there are some secondary relationships and characters who have likely developed over the series, this book stands alone in terms of its mystery and solution. While it may be best to read the books in order, especially if you are going to read the entire series, but even as a stand alone this book was very enjoyable. It did not feel as if I was struggling to grasp Penny’s relationship with others or within her small town in Wales.

The book opens with a prologue that depicts an annual poet award which, in this instance was won by a poet who was killed in WWI. The chair, which is the reward, is then shrouded in a black cloth and is known throughout history as “The Black Chair.” One interesting aside, this is an actual event and is the black chair is historically accurate. The rest of the story, however, is pure fiction.

In this book, Penny Brannigan is asked to organize a formal dinner where the newly refurbished “black chair” will be displayed. On the night of the dinner, Penny discovers a young man who has been assaulted in the garden and who later dies. To make things worse, when the dinner guests assemble in the library to view the black chair, the shroud is removed to reveal an ordinary dinner chair, the black chair has disappeared.

Penny, who has some experience in solving mysteries in the town before now, is once again drawn into the investigation. She is convinced the death of the young man and the disappearance of the chair are in some way connected. Her investigation is sanctioned by the Detective Chief Inspector for the area, who is also a friend of Penny’s and takes her into Dublin to talk with a former love interest who turned out to be less than honorable. She also discusses the theft with her friend Jimmy, a reformed petty thief who is now a resident at a nursing home, her business partner and others who have some connection to Penny or to the murdered young man.

The book is well written and moves the reader through at a gentle pace that makes it easy to enjoy. Penny and the other individuals who comprise the residents of her village in Wales are interesting and offer a delightful picture of life in a small Welsh village. It was not difficult to determine who was responsible for the disappearance of the chair. The murderer was not as apparent, due in part to the fact that the clues were not as apparent as they might have been. There were some other, smaller reveals which added to the interest in the book and providing additional satisfaction to the reader.

My thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing me with an Advanced Digital Reader copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review. This review represents my opinion of the book. Based on this read, I look forward to going back and reading other books in the series.

Well, there you have it. I have revealed myself not just as an avid reader, but as a geek of sorts. Still, to me, nothing is better than a book that entertains you and also, fosters some sort of new knowledge. Whether or not you read for entertainment, for knowledge, or for some combination of both, this is a book and series I recommend to anyone who likes cozy mysteries. As always, Happy Reading.