Book Review and Blog Tour: Death by a Cornish Cove by Fliss Chester

I’m delighted to be part of Bookouture’s Books-on-Tour for Death by a Cornish Cove, the second in Fliss Chester’s Cressida Fawcett mysteries.

Book: Death by a Cornish Cove
Author: Fliss Chester
Pub Day: February 9, 2023

Buy link:

Book Description:

A seaside party at a Cornish mansion with plenty of fizz, what could be more perfect? But something fishy is afoot… a killer lurks among the guests, and only Cressida Fawcett can stop them.

When Cressida Fawcett is invited to stay at Penbeagle House on the Cornish coast for a fancy-dress ball, she is looking forward to sipping rum cocktails clad as a pirate, watching the red-sailed boats go by and relaxing in the sea air with her good friend Dotty. But before they can raise their glasses to toast Cressida’s former flame Lord Canterbury’s engagement, he drops dead in front of the horrified guests.

The local doctor determines that Lord Canterbury was poisoned, and soon Detective Chief Inspector Andrews is on his way from Scotland Yard. But Cressida is dismayed by the murder of the intrepid explorer who once asked for her hand in marriage, and she cannot simply leave the case to the police. Together with Dotty and her little pug Ruby, Cressida searches for clues only to discover that many of the guests have a motive for murder. Did an irate journalist or a bitter fellow explorer send Lord Canterbury on his untimely final journey?

And when a young maid is found dead, floating in the shimmering waters of the cove, Cressida knows time is running out to catch the killer. Could a clue hidden among some rather pungent crab sandwiches help her solve the case before there is another murder?

A witty and totally addictive cozy mystery packed with intrigue and glamour. Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Lee Strauss.

My review:

There’s just something about a cozy mystery set in the 1920s that I find delightfully appealing. Verity Bright, Ann Sutton, Fliss Chester, I love them all. This, the second in Chester’s Cressida Fawcett series, carries on in fine fashion.

Here we find Cressida off to a country house on the Cornish coast for a fancy-dress ball, along with her friend Dotty and her pug Ruby. The lady of the house, Lady Trevelyan, has asked Cressida to lend some decorating expertise while she’s there, so Cressy is expecting nothing more than drinks and dancing, and maybe some time spent discussing design ideas and color schemes. What she doesn’t expect is that Randolph, who once proposed marriage to Cressy and whose engagement to Selina Trevelyan is cause for celebration, won’t survive the weekend.

Fliss Chester does a wonderful job of creating a setting I’d love to just step into! I’ve never been to Cornwall, but her descriptions of it certainly make me want to visit. And I do love her characters. Cressida may be an independent young woman, but she’s got a good heart. She cares more for her friends and doing the right thing than abiding by what social niceties might expect of her.

Ruby the pug is a treat. I love stories with animal sidekicks, and Ruby snuffles around in adorable pug fashion. Here she has a couple of run-ins with the Trevelyans’ Siamese cat, and she literally pokes her nose into things that give Cressida some insights into the crime she’s investigating.

DCI Andrews and his sergeant from Scotland Yard are on the scene, so Cressy isn’t fending for herself against an unknown killer. I appreciate that Andrews is conducting a proper police investigation, while acknowledging that Cressida may have access to conversations that people wouldn’t have with the police. He doesn’t just hand the investigation over to a civilian, but he does allow for some assistance to come from someone outside the force.

And there’s no shortage of suspects for Cressida to investigate. From Trevelyan cousin Jago Trengrouse, to Roscoe the gardener, to maid (and another Trevelyan cousin) Morwenna, to someone else looking to make a name in the antiquities trade, to Selina Trevelyan herself, everyone seems to have had a spat with Randolph on the day he died. Cressida is kept busy chasing down one lead after another.

There’s a bit of romance here, too. In the first book, Dotty’s relationship with Basil ended badly, and her heart was broken. Here there’s a glimmer that perhaps all hope on the romance front is not lost. And Dotty’s brother Alfred knows that Cressida values her independence, but he may carry a bit of a torch for her anyway. Will a romance blossom for Cressida and Alfred in later books? We’ll see!

So we’ve got Bright Young Things, a fancy-dress ball, an unexpected death involving the upper crust of society. Is it maybe a tiny bit formulaic? Sure. Does that matter? Not at all. Cressida Fawcett is a charming heroine, her friendship with Dotty is true, and the mystery is engaging. It’s a lovely, light, escapist read that transports me to a time and place outside of my daily life, and that’s what a good story does! Five stars for pure, unadulterated fun.

About the author:

Fliss Chester lives in Surrey with her husband and writes historical cozy crime. When she is not killing people off in her 1940s whodunnits, she helps her husband, who is a wine merchant, run their business. Never far from a decent glass of something, Fliss also loves cooking (and writing up her favourite recipes on her blog), enjoying the beautiful Surrey and West Sussex countryside and having a good natter.

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