Series: Aunt Dimity #20
Published by Viking on April 14th 2015
Genres: British mystery, Cozy Mystery
Source: the library
Cozy mystery lovers’ favorite paranormal sleuth is back with her twentieth otherworldly adventure
There’s trouble in Finch. Four recently sold cottages are standing empty, and the locals fear that a developer plans to turn their cozy village into an enclave of overpriced weekend homes. But for once Lori Shepherd can’t help.
Her infant daughter, her father-inlaw’s upcoming wedding, and the crushing prospect of her fortieth birthday have left her feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. Until, that is, she has a chance encounter with an eccentric inventor named Arthur Hargreaves. Dubbed the Summer King by his equally eccentric family, Arthur is as warmhearted as the summer sun. In his presence, Lori forgets her troubles—and Finch’s.
But Lori snaps out of her happy trance when she discovers detailed maps of Finch in the Summer King’s library. Next, a real estate agent comes knocking. Is Arthur secretly plotting Finch’s demise?
With Aunt Dimity’s otherworldly help—and her new daughter in her arms—Lori mounts a crusade to save her beloved village from the Summer King’s scorching greed.
The Aunt Dimity books are another sentimental favorite of mine. I count the first book, Aunt Dimity’s Death, as one of my chief “comfort reads” – the equivalent of a warm blanket and a hot cup of tea. After reading the series for years, I always enjoy spending time with Lori, her family and friends, and the somewhat eccentric villagers of Finch.
Aunt Dimity and the Summer King introduces a new nearby resident, one I really like and hope we’ll see more of: Arthur Hargreaves, a charming, warm-hearted, eccentric, and apparently well-to-do inventor. His estate borders that of Lori’s father-in-law, yet he and his family are complete strangers to the village. It’s not until Lori sees a map of the entire village in his office – and discovers that someone is trying to dissuade prospective buyers from snapping up several newly-vacant cottages – that she begins to put two and two together to create a very worrisome picture. What if sunny Arthur is in fact plotting to take over the village for development?
I should be used to Lori’s predilection for jumping to conclusions by now. After all, Summer King is the twentieth book in the series. But for some reason, I found myself occasionally getting frustrated with her. Surely she should be old enough to have learned that she’s wrong as often as she’s right? Never mind; Lori’s heart is in the right place, and it’s for her heart – for her determination to protect her village, her cheerful acceptance of her neighbors’ eccentricities, and her love of family – that I treasure her.
And I love the secondary characters, from ghostly-but-practical Aunt Dimity to rock-solid Bill to gentle, aristocratic William and his new fiancee Amelia. In fact, I’d cheerfully move to Finch myself, given half an opportunity. So there’s plenty for me to enjoy in this book.
But unless Britain has very different laws than we do, the solution of this mystery hangs on something that’s inconsistent with things said and implied in a lot of the previous books, and I can’t quite get past that. (I’d like to be more specific, but I can’t without major spoilers.) It left me feeling a bit put-out, to tell the truth – as though the author hadn’t quite played fair with me. It’s not the first inconsistency in the books – any series this long has a few of those. It’s the magnitude of the inconsistency that bothers me and leaves a slightly bitter taste at the end of what was otherwise a delicious confection.
But I’m not going to let that stop me from looking forward to my next vacation in Finch!