Aunt Dimity and the Summer King (Nancy Atherton)

July 30, 2015 Book Reviews 8 ★★★

Aunt Dimity and the Summer King (Nancy Atherton)Aunt Dimity and the Summer King by Nancy Atherton
Series: Aunt Dimity #20
Published by Viking on April 14th 2015
Genres: British mystery, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 240
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library
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Also in this series: Aunt Dimity and the King's Ransom
Also by this author: Aunt Dimity and the King's Ransom

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!


About Nancy Atherton

Nancy Atherton is not a white-haired Englishwoman with a softly wrinkled face, a wry smile, and wise gray eyes, nor does she live in a thatched cottage behind a babbling brook in a tranquil, rural corner of the Cotswolds.

She has never taken tea with a vicar (although she drank an Orange Squash with one once) and she doesn’t plan to continue writing after her allotted time on earth (though such plans are, as well all know, subject to change without notice).

If you prefer to envision her as an Englishwoman, she urges you to cling to your illusions at all costs — she treasures carefully nurtured illusions. She also urges you to read no further.

Because the truth is that Nancy Atherton is a dark-haired American with a generally unwrinkled face, a beaming smile, and hazel eyes, who lives in a plain house in Colorado Springs. She comes from a large, gregarious family (five brothers and two sisters!) and enjoys socializing as much as she enjoys solitude.

So if you are looking for her at a convention, don’t look for a stately grande dame in a flowery dress. Look for a woman in jeans and sneakers who’s bounding around like a hyperactive gerbil.

That’ll be her. And she’d love to meet you.

8 Responses to “Aunt Dimity and the Summer King (Nancy Atherton)”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Oh, it would take a lot more than an inconsistency to sour me on this series! It’s true that I love the first few books the most, but these characters are old friends now; reading each book as it comes out is like settling into a comfy chair with a nice cup of tea.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      The first three are my favorites – although technically, the second book is a prequel and doesn’t fit the mold of the other books. (I still love it, though.)

  1. Rita @ View From My Home

    I’ve been curious about this series for a long time after you proclaimed it one of your true comfort reads. I have comfort foods, lol, and I need to “get me” some comfort reads (more pleasurable and less calories!)

    I’m still not sure what the series is about, but it’s a cozy mystery, seems a lighthearted one, set in U.K. so right away it sounds good to me! A paranormal aspect, hmm, I’ve seen cozies where ghosts live in B & B’s and solve mysteries and wasn’t sure, but I’m assuming this one is worth a peek.
    Rita @ View From My Home recently posted…Weekly Wrap-Up 7/30/15My Profile

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Start with Aunt Dimity’s Death, which is absolutely charming and a little meatier than this one – plus it introduces the main character.