Murder at Hawthorn Cottage by Betty Rowlands
Meet Melissa: cat lover, caring mother… daring detective?
Melissa Craig is absolutely delighted with her new life in an old crumbling cottage, spending her days pruning the primroses and getting to know Binkie, the ginger cat next door. She only wishes she had made the move to the countryside sooner.
But when a knock at the door brings news of a shocking discovery, she suddenly finds herself thrown in to the middle of a baffling mystery. The bones of a young woman have been found in the woods just behind her new home.
Perhaps the little village of Upper Bembury is not as idyllic as it first seemed?
Strange phone calls in the night convince Melissa that the police are barking up completely the wrong tree. So she can’t resist doing a little digging of her own. From the bingo hall to the beauty salon and beyond, her search ruffles a few feathers. She uncovers many of the village’s most scandalous secrets, but gets her no closer to finding the culprit…
The discovery of a tatty old photograph in a drawer is the final piece of the puzzle she needs, but as a newcomer in this close-knit community, does Melissa have what it
takes to get to the bottom of this extraordinary murder mystery alone?
A joy to read! An absolutely unputdownable whodunnit for fans of Agatha Christie, P.D. James and Faith Martin.
This book was previously published as A Little Gentle Sleuthing.
The first part of Murder at Hawthorn Cottage is a detailed introduction into the life of crime writer and amateur sleuth Melissa Craig. She has recently moved into a renovated cottage in the countryside. The author sets the scene beautifully and the addition of Iris the next door neighbour is superb. Iris is an endearing character who speaks exclusively in sentences which contain no more than five words! She is extremely straight talking and fiercely loyal to Melissa, even though they only recently met.
The cottage itself sounds idyllic and the villagers who call by (including a very interesting Rector and his wife!) are described intricately. The book is a series, so I think the early chapters are crucial to build up a good understanding of the characters and learn a little about their background.
The mystery part starts with strange phone calls to Melissa’s home telephone. When Melissa meets investigative journalist Bruce, they discuss the phone conversations and come up with an interesting theory. Meanwhile, a body is discovered in nearby woods. Could they be linked?
Melissa and Bruce make up a great duo of amateur sleuths. He jumps to conclusions quickly and she keeps him grounded. However, Melissa has an adventurous side too! She is a crime author and meticulously plans her next novel taking inspiration from the residents of Upper Bembury. I found this a very interesting insight into a novelist’s mind.
I loved this crime mystery and will be reading others in the series. Betty Rowlands has a real talent for storytelling. The writing is extremely detailed but broken up with interesting and compelling dialogue, I found it difficult to put down!
Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the opportunity to review this book, which I have done honestly.