We spent a couple of days at a state park recently, trying to figure out what it would be like to actually get out and about after being sequestered at home for so long due to COVID-19. Technically, we are still supposed to be isolating, so we knew we couldn’t go to any location that had lots of people, but a state park seemed ideal. There are cottages to rent that have everything you need for the stay. I admit to being a marshmallow, no camping for me. It’s easier to isolate in a cottage also, as you are inside, or on your own porch as opposed to a communal room or lobby.
This was a new park to us, and while we enjoyed our stay, it was somewhat of a surprise when we arrived and learned there was no telephone coverage for our cell phones and no internet in the cabin. Sure, we could drive to the welcome station and sit in our car outside to connect to Wi-Fi; but that’s not exactly how you want to spend much of your time.
Fortunately, I had a good book to read. That’s not surprising exactly. I read a lot. While there was a television with cable, neither of us like much of what is on television, so it didn’t provide much in the way of diversion. The book, however, was a different matter. I was reading Mystery at Seagrave Hall by Clare Chase. It’s the third in a series, and I had read the first two, so I was looking forward to finding out how things were progressing in the fictional village of Saxford St. Peter. I must say, the book did not disappoint. Here’s my review in case you want to know more.
This is the third book in the Eve Mallow mystery series, and they just keep getting better. It is a classic cozy, complete with a charming English village, an amateur detective, a best friend along with some other recurring secondary characters, and a possible romantic interest. While all those elements are often found in cozy mysteries, there is enough about the actions and area that is interesting to make this an enjoyable series and this book is no exception. Having read the series in order, as each book has been readied for publication, I have had the opportunity to experience the growth of Eve’s relationship with others as well as increase my understanding of who she is and how she got to this point in her life. For new readers, while each book stands alone, I believe they will enjoy it most if they read them in order so they are involved in the progression of Eve’s life in the village.
Eve is a 40-something divorced woman with two grown children who has relocated from London to the small village of Saxford St. Peter in England. She writes in-depth obituaries for a magazine on a free-lance basis, and supplements her income by working for her friend Viv in her bakery/cafe. In all three books to date, Eve has been tasked with writing an obituary for a murder victim. Her quest for information regarding the individual fires her curiosity and she winds up as interested in finding the murderer as she is in completing the obit. This puts her at odds with the detective typically assigned to the cases, DI Palmer.
Eve does receive help from Robin, a man everyone in the village thinks is a gardener although Eve knows different. Eve learned shortly after moving to the village that he used to be a detective inspector with the police but has moved to the area and is keeping his true identity secret. In this book she learns more about why he is living under an assumed name and what drove him away from the police department. The only other people in the area who know Robin’s true identity are the vicar and a police constable who serves as a police contact and occasionally feeds Robin information which he often passes on to Eve.
In this novel, the murder victim is Verity, and adventuress who pursues a career as a diver exploring underwater caves. There are multiple suspects including the family of her fiance, who are the resident gentry and who feels Verity is too common for their son. Other suspects include the estate manager, Tilly; her mother, Ivy; and the medic she dives with Pete. Eve sets about to research Verity’s life in part to write the obituary and in part because she wants to solve the murder. She is warned by the current detective, DI Palmer, to stay out of the murder as he doesn’t appreciate her interference and has threatened to put her in jail if he discovers she is going beyond typical research for the obit.
There are several murders which take place and they all seem logical when the case is finally solved. The pacing is good and it is an easy book to read, while at the same time it can be interrupted for other activities without losing track of what is happening and who is involved. SPOILER ALERT (SLIGHT): My one complaint with the book is that Eve again puts herself in harm’s way at the end of the book and has to be rescued. This is a ploy that is somewhat overused in cozy mysteries in my opinion.
My thanks to Bookoutour and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
We’re back home now, having had a successful outing and ready to spend a little more time in isolation. With any luck, we’ll be able to get out and do more in the next few weeks, and this trip taught us some of the things we want to do as we continue to try and avoid contracting the virus. Since we’re both a high risk, we have decided on an abundance of caution for the time being. That said, in addition to the extra things we’ll be taking, like our homemade clorox wipes (thanks to the internet for the recipe), I’ll be sure to take along a book or two. You never know when you may want to be entertained. For now, I’ll say Happy Reading.