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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Murder at Honeychurch Hall (Kat Stanford Mysteries, #1)

Murder at Honeychurch Hall: A Mystery - Hannah Dennison

A light, entertaining story that skirts right up to the line of farce and dances along it without ever teetering over the edge, this first in a new series reminded me a bit of Dorothy Cannel's writing style, and to anyone who has read and enjoyed those, I'd recommend giving this one a try.


Kat Stanford has just resigned as a TV personality on Fakes & Treasures and is on her way towards her dream of opening her own antiques shop with her mother.  Only to find her mother has no intention of going into business with her, and has moved out to the country and bought a carriage house on an old-family estate without telling her.  Kate, sure her mother has misplaced a few of her marbles, rushes out to Honeychurch Hall to badger some sense into her mom and get her back into London and back on The Plan.  On her arrival, she's confronted with another shock:  her mom is, in fact, a romance writer of renown; a secret she's been keeping all of Kat's life from everybody.  Oh, and the carriage house is a big hot mess with holes in the roof and the floors.


The dynamic between Kate and her mother, Iris, is so refreshing; here are two women who obviously love and respect each other but do not let the other get away with anything for one moment.  They bicker almost non-stop throughout the entire book.  Based on my own family dynamics, it's the most realistic mother-daughter relationship I've ever seen written.


The rest of the supporting cast of characters are eccentric, yet realistic - although their antics can be a bit out there.  I love Biggles!  I don't normally like kids in my mysteries, but he's just adorable!  Kat's boyfriend plays a part, but it's a small one and he's around just enough for me to wish him gone.


The murder takes place about halfway through the story; there's a lot of character setup, background information, and setting establishment taking place, so to me it felt natural.  There's also a missing woman almost right from the start, so there is some investigating going on throughout the whole book.  This wasn't a cozy where the MC decides she 'must' investigate to save someone; Kat is just trying to help out her mother, convince her to come home, and not fall through her bedroom floor.  She stumbles across everything naturally in the course of everyday events and I LOVE that!  There weren't any TSTL moments either.  


Overall the plotting was fluid, as natural as these things can be, and really well done.  I loved the way everything new and old was tied together at the end and nothing was given away before it was supposed to be.


This is a strong first in what could be a vastly entertaining series.  I deducted 1/2 star for the very subjective reason that I had difficulty really connecting with the MC; I like her, but I think I need to read the next book to get to know her better.


I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and St. Martin's Press in return for an honest review.