Bloodstains with Bronte by Katherine Bolger Hyde

January 19, 2018 Book Reviews 9 ★★★★

Bloodstains with Bronte by Katherine Bolger HydeBloodstains with Bronte by Katherine Bolger Hyde
Series: Crime with the Classics #2
Published by Minotaur Books on December 12, 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: the publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Classic novels and crime solving intertwine in Katherine Bolger Hyde's charming series. Bloodstains with Bronte is the second in a series that will puzzle and please fans of mystery and masterpieces alike.

Windy Corner is being remodeled into a writers' retreat. Two of the young workers, Jake and Roman, are showing too much of the wrong kind of interest in Katie, Emily's young single-mother housekeeper.

It's a stormy autumn and Emily is reading Wuthering Heights. Roman, a dark and brooding type, reminds her of Heathcliff. At a Halloween murder mystery fundraiser at Windy Corner, someone is found stabbed to death. Windy Corner's very own detective, Luke, is reluctantly forced to investigate Katie.

Luke digs into the background of the contractor, Jeremiah Edwards, and Emily, now reading Jane Eyre, realizes Jeremiah resembles St. John Rivers in his obsessive, tormented piety. Will Luke figure out who the murderer is before Katie ends up in jail or someone else is killed?

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Review

Bloodstains with Bronte is a well-crafted cozy mystery that kept my interest from beginning to end. To begin with, I very much like the heroine, Emily, a former professor who has inherited a Victorian mansion in her home town on the Oregon coast. At a guess, she’s in her 40s or perhaps early 50s—not so far from my own age. Imaginative but practical, caring but no pushover, Emily has taken under her wing (and into her heart) a young single mother barely out of high school, whom she hired as a live-in housekeeper. Emily is also involved with her high school sweetheart, Luke, now a police detective. Her loyalties come into conflict when a young man is killed during a murder-mystery fundraising dinner in Emily’s house, and Katie becomes the chief suspect.

Emily is convinced Katie is innocent, but her motive is strong and her story doesn’t entirely hold up. Torn between her feelings for Luke, her love for the girl she thinks of as a daughter, and her innate honesty, she decides to protect Katie and discover the real murderer. Luke doesn’t want to believe Katie did it, but he’s absolutely committed to finding the truth, no matter where it leads.

Luke and Katie are secondary characters, but not by much—particularly in Luke’s case. A number of scenes are told from Luke’s perspective, and Katie’s diary entries give the reader insight into her thoughts. I appreciated the way the narrative moves from character to character; it helps to develop the plot and gave me access to information each character had that the others did not, as well as deepening the character development of all three.

I mentioned that Emily and I are both in our middle years. There are too few heroines of that age, though admittedly more of them in cozy mysteries than almost any other genre. There are also too few of that age who get a romantic relationship , so I really appreciated the growing love between Emily and Luke (despite the tensions caused by this case), and will look forward to seeing where it goes in future books.

The author inserts a number of references to and quotes from both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, as Emily (former English professor that she is!) draws parallels between characters and situations in both books and the people around her. The allusions are skillfully woven in, and never felt contrived. Hyde also employs a delicate touch when it comes to Emily’s Orthodox Christian faith; it’s a part of her personality and something that matters to her, but it’s only one facet of her character. Moreover, it’s Emily’s faith and not the narrator’s; there’s nothing “preachy” about the book.

A well-constructed plot, nuanced characters I can relate to, and a touch of middle-aged romance add up to a very promising series. In short, I’ve discovered a new cozy author I will not only happily read again, but will follow with interest!

 

four-stars

9 Responses to “Bloodstains with Bronte by Katherine Bolger Hyde”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      For cozies that have more substance than a lot of the light-and-fluffy themed series, I also suggest Loretta Ross’s Auction Block series, Lea Wait’s Mainely Needlework series, and Cathy Ace’s Cait Morgan series. (The latter has a decidedly Golden Age classic mystery feel, but they are contemporary.) For mysteries with even more substance, plus superb writing, I highly recommend Laurie R. King’s historical mystery series featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, and Deborah Crombie’s British police procedural series starring Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. These two series are not cozies at all; I’d rank the authors with the best of the British “grandes dames” (Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey, and Margery Allingham.)

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