Published by Crooked Lane Books on October 8, 2019
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Mystery
Format: eARC, eBook
Source: purchased, the publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
American antique dealer Kate Hamilton's Christmastime jaunt to a charming English village leads to an investigation of a missing ruby...and a chain of murders.
It's Christmastime and antiques dealer Kate Hamilton is off to visit her daughter, Christine, in the quaint English village of Long Barston. Christine and her boyfriend, Tristan, work at stately-but-crumbling Finchley Hall. Touring the Elizabethan house and grounds, Kate is intrigued by the docent's tales of the Finchley Hoard, and the strange deaths surrounding the renowned treasure trove. But next to a small lake, Kate spies the body of a young woman, killed by a garden spade.
Nearly blind Lady Barbara, who lives at Finchley with her loyal butler, Mugg, persuades Kate to take over the murdered woman's work. Kate finds that a Burmese ruby has vanished from the legendary Blood-Red Ring, replaced by a lesser garnet. Were the theft and the woman's death connected?
Kate learns that Lady Barbara's son fled to Venezuela years before, suspected of murdering another young woman. The murder weapon belonged to an old gardener, who becomes the leading suspect. But is Lady Barbara's son back to kill again? When another body is found, the clues point toward Christine. It's up to Kate to clear her daughter's name in Connie Berry's second Kate Hamilton mystery, a treasure for fans of traditional British mysteries.
I received a review copy of this book from purchased, the publisher.
Deft and realistic characterization, a well-crafted plot, and Connie Berry’s talent for conveying both setting and atmosphere put A Legacy of Murder firmly in my Top 5 Mysteries list for 2019. The book reads more like a tradition Golden Age mystery set in the present than like a light contemporary cozy mystery — and that is very much to my taste.
Kate is a sympathetic and believable heroine. The bonus for me is that she is 46, an American widow with two adult children… and in love (“or not; it’s complicated”) with a British Detective Inspector, Tom Mallory, whom she met in the first book in the series. Frankly, it’s refreshing to have a middle-aged-but-not-past-romance heroine. (And it reminds me of another series I enjoy, the Crime with the Classics mysteries by Katherine Bolger Hyde.)
Connie Berry evidently subscribes to what I consider to be one of the cardinal rules of mystery writing: the author must “play fair” with the reader. All clues known to the detective (in this case, Kate) should be available for the observant reader to discover, so that the reader has the opportunity to solve the crime or puzzle on their own. In this series, Kate serves as both amateur detective and first-person narrator, so generally speaking, we see and hear whatever she does. And Tom’s awareness of Kate’s intelligence and abilities means she’s privy to much of what the police know, as well. Despite all that, it took me about as long as it took Kate to figure out the solution to the mystery, due to a multiplicity of suspects and other complicating factors.
There is so much to enjoy in this book: the village-and-great-house setting, the not-always-easy-but-worth-it relationship between Kate and Tom, Kate’s knowledge of and flair for antiques. All of the secondary characters are interesting and believable, and some are quite charming, like Ivor, the local antiques dealer, and the elderly and nearly blind Lady Barbara. But this is a contemporary Britain, not a nostalgic or idealized one. Berry doesn’t gloss over the financial difficulties facing most of the great estates, nor the heartaches, rivalries, and fears that can bedevil relationships of all sorts.
If you are a fan of Agatha Christie, Catherine Aird, and other traditional British mystery authors, you should give Connie Berry a try. A Legacy of Murder is the second book in the series, but I never felt lost reading it. Still, I plan to go back and read the first book, A Dream of Death, as soon as I can!
FTC disclosure clarification: I received a digital review copy for this tour. It inexplicably disappeared from my Kindle docs before I could read it (along with another review copy downloaded the same day.) Since the review copy had already been archived at NetGalley, I couldn’t re-download it, so I purchased a copy in order to review it. I’m glad I did, as I would have purchased a copy after reading it, regardless.
As part of the tour, the author is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card!a Rafflecopter giveaway
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