Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall, by Hannah Dennison

May 6, 2015 Book Reviews 4 ★★★★

Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall, by Hannah DennisonDeadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison
Series: Honeychurch Hall #2
Published by Minotaur Books on May 5th 2015
Genres: British mystery, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: the publisher through NetGalley
Goodreads
four-stars
Also in this series: Murder at Honeychurch Hall, A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall
Also by this author: Murder at Honeychurch Hall, A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall

When the body of a transport minister is discovered in the grounds on Honeychurch Hall, suspicion about his unusual demise naturally falls on the folks in the village. After all, who could possibly want a high-speed train line built in their front yard?

News of the murder soon reaches our heroine Kat Stanford's nemesis Trudy Wynne. A ruthless tabloid journalist and the ex-wife of Kat's discarded lover, Trudy is out for revenge. She is also interested in exposing--and humiliating--Kat's mother Iris, who is secretly the international bestselling romance writer Krystalle Storm.

As the body count begins to build, Kat becomes inextricably embroiled in the ensuing scandal. Is the minister's death the result of a local vendetta, or could it be connected to her mother's unusual (to say the least) past?

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

Review

Like its predecessor, Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall exhibits a delightful eccentricity reminscent of the mysteries of Margery Allingham or Ngaio Marsh, but updated to contemporary Britain. Also as in the first novel, it can be a little tricky to keep track of all the players without a program (a cast list would come in very handy.) Nonetheless, Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall is every bit as charming, a worthy successor to Murder at Honeychurch Hall. (review)

I particularly love Kat’s relationship with Iris, her mother; it’s comprised of equal parts of love and exasperation on both their parts. I find Kat the more relatable of the two; Iris is definitely a handful, and at times it’s all Kat can do to keep her mum out of trouble. We get to see another member of the family in this book, too: Iris’s stepbrother, Kat’s Uncle Alfred, has been hired to work on the estate – though of course, no one but Iris and Kat know that he’s just been released after a 10-year stint in prison!

We meet more of the villagers this time around, too – the pubkeeper and his wife, and a mother and daughter on the edge of poverty. None of the villagers are happy about the proposed high-speed rail line set to cut right past the village. Tensions are running high, and Kat finds herself nominated (or coerced) into becoming the public face of the protest movement. Things start to go downhill when one of the villagers is found dead in a stream and the government’s compensation agent disappears. Throw in a missing packet of money (Iris’s), young Harry going AWOL from his school, tension between the lord and lady of the manor and between Kat and village policeman Shawn Crocker, tabloid photos of Kat, and the return of a very determined David (her former boyfriend), and Kat’s hands are decidedly full.  (Just for the record, there’s still no resolution of Kat’s love life, but I’m firmly Team Shawn.)

The plot is complex but not quite as complicated as in the first book, and I found it a bit easier to keep track of what’s going on in the various mysteries. Once again, I suspected some of the truth, but not all of it, which for me is one of the hallmarks of a good mystery – the reader should have a fair chance of figuring it out, but shouldn’t solve it too quickly! Deadly Desires clears that bar easily; like Christie and the other Golden Age mystery writers, Dennison is adept at misleading you while still planting all the clues where you can spot them – if you’re observant enough, and clever enough to weed out the red herrings.

I do recommend reading Murder at Honeychurch Hall first to get the recurring characters and relationships straight in your head; it will make Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall easier to follow as well as more fun. But if you’re a fan of cozies and/or British Golden Age mysteries, you owe it to yourself to give this series a try.

four-stars

About Hannah Dennison

Hannah is the author of the Honeychurch Hall Mysteries and the Vicky Hill Mysteries, both set in Devon, England. She has been an obituary reporter, antique dealer, private jet flight attendant and Hollywood story analyst. Hannah originally moved to Los Angeles from England to pursue screenwriting and now lives in Portland, Oregon. She continues to teach mystery writing at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and still works for a west coast advertising agency. Hannah is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, The Crime Writers Association, The Historic Houses Association, the National Trust and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. She enjoys hiking, horseback riding, skiing, theater and seriously good chocolate.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2015

4 Responses to “Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall, by Hannah Dennison”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I was pleased. I missed Harry – he’s not in the book very much – but on the whole I think it’s a pretty good successor to the first book.