Grand Prize: Murder! by Vivian Conroy
I like Vivian Conroy's writing. I enjoyed her Lady Alkmene series which are historical cozy crime novels set in the 1920s and this is the second in Conroy's new series, The Country Gift Shop Series, which is as pleasing and charming. Conroy's novels do all that their attractive covers suggest. They are cozy. They are crime stories. They are easy to read, enjoyable and well paced.
The cover and the series title perhaps suggest something quite twee but although the influence of Miss Marple is clearly an influence for Conroy, there is something a little bit more quirky and humorous rather than saccharine about these books. And they are crime stories so there is blood, there is murder, there is violence and police investigations. There are all the elements a reader wants and needs to make the stories compelling and Conroy ensures that you are engaged with the story and characters so that you want to read on until the end.
Although this is book 2 in the series, it doesn't matter if you haven't read book 1 as Conroy swiftly brings everyone up to date in the first chapter with a succinct summary of all you need to know. But to be honest, these are light and easy reads at around 220 pages so it won't take you long to catch up if you want to start from the beginning!
We return to Glen Cove and to Vicky Simmons and her gift shop. This time, Vicky is awaiting the arrival of Bella Brookes who is a cozy crime author coming for a book signing and to open Glen Cove's One Mile Book Market. There's also going to be a scavenger hunt - which I thought was an inspired idea for any book signing event as well as a rather clever plot device!
I think Conroy had quite a lot of fun writing this novel and she must have enjoyed writing about a cozy crime author and a book event! Bella Brookes is a fantastic, larger than life character who the readers loves to love, cringe at, feel frustrated by and maybe even hate as she has so much self confidence and such a sense of self importance. Her flamboyancy and then her rudeness are well evoked and she makes a for a character who leaps of the page with her vitality and personality. The effect she has on the people around her is amusing and I really enjoyed the description of her arrival at the party. Nor does she fade or whither when accused of being a suspect in the murder.
But she is not the only colourful character - there are many more here in Glen Cove. And as well as the interlopers and visitors, there are also the steady, quiet, reliable and honourable employees at the gift shop, the police department and in Vicky's group of friends. They are a great bunch to spend some time with and it was enjoyable to watch the relationships developing as the second novel continued.
Of course I cannot include spoilers so I cannot reveal any more about the characters and the storyline but I would recommend these books. They should be on every readers book shelf, ready for when you fancy some escapism, light relief or a good thriller that will give you enough clues, hints and revelations without dragging you into anything too violent or stomach churning. Recommend!
Grand Prize: Murder is out in ebook on 15th March 2017.
Vivian Conroy discovered Agatha Christie at 13 and quickly devoured all Poirot and Miss Marple stories. Over time Lord Peter Wimsey and Brother Cadfael joined her favorite sleuths. Even more fun than reading was thinking up her own fog-filled alleys, missing heirs and priceless artifacts. So Vivian created feisty Lady Alkmene and enigmatic reporter Jake Dubois sleuthing in 1920s London and the countryside, first appearing in A PROPOSAL TO DIE FOR (published by Carina UK/Harper Collins). Now she has created the contemporary Country Gift Shop Mysteries published by HQ Stories.
For my reviews of Vivian Conroy's other titles please use the links below:
Dead To Begin With #1 Country Gift Shop Series
A Proposal To Die For #1 Lady Alkmene Series
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