Hannah Dennison

Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall

"...should appeal to people who, like me, enjoy a cosy mystery.."


Things are happening in deepest Devon. For a start, the manuscript for Iris Stanford's latest novel, 'Ravished' fails to arrive at her publisher's. Her daughter Kate discovers that it never left the local post office, run by the recently-widowed Muriel Jarvis, so what has happened to it? Then a skeleton is dug up - but it dates from the 17th century, and is that of a woman wearing a scold's bridal. But what woman?

This is against the background of a yearly event known as 'The Skirmish', when two local families, the Carews, who supported the Roundheads during the Civil War, and the Honeychurches, titled the Earls of Grenville, who were Royalists, re-enact a Civil War battle. Then a real, modern-day murder is committed....

The present-day Carews and Honeychurches settled their differences years ago, and now they have intermarried and inter-bred. But for all that, Kate is caught up in a web of intrigue, adultery, death, theft and blackmail, all within a bucolic part of England.

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This book has all the hallmarks of a village cosy, though there are some modern twists that make it stand apart from the Miss Marple/Agatha Raisin books. Though there are some stock characters in it, English village life is carefully dissected in a way that Agatha Christie would never have attempted to do. The dichotomy between the aristos in the big houses and the ordinary people of the village, for instance, is played down to a certain extent. My one criticism is that there is, sometimes, just too much happening. The story races along, piling event on event until I found myself turning back a few pages and re-reading just to keep up. A few quiet moments in the plot would have been very welcome so that I could catch my breath and work out the unfolding relationships between the characters. But all in all, it's an enjoyable read, and should appeal to people who, like me, enjoy a cosy mystery set among England's green fields and quaint villages.

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