Book Review and Blog Tour: Death in the Crypt by Fliss Chester

Book: Death in the Crypt
Author: Fliss Chester
Pub Day: April 26, 2024 
Buy Link: Amazon

Book Description:

The Honourable Cressida Fawcett is expecting the cathedral crypt to be full of dry old bones. But when she finds a body murdered just moments before, she’ll need divine inspiration to solve her most mysterious case yet…

Winchester, 1925. When heiress and amateur sleuth Cressida Fawcett is invited to her aunt’s mansion on Cloister Close, she is looking forward to a quiet stay in the historic town. The views of the cathedral are heavenly – and her aunt’s maid, Nancy, makes devilishly good ginger biscuits! But it seems Cressy and her pug Ruby won’t be allowed to rest in peace… On a tour of the crypt, they are shocked to stumble across the body of Anthony, the gentle, devoted verger. And a wild-eyed Nancy is standing over him, bloodied candlestick in hand…

Since Nancy was caught red-handed and the only other suspect is the Silent Friar, the legendary local ghost, Detective Andrews of Scotland Yard thinks the case is closed. But Nancy swears she would never have killed Anthony; they were in love. And while Cressy may not believe in ghosts, she does believe Nancy. So, whose soul is full of murder most foul? And will they strike again?

As she digs through parishioner gossip, Cressy discovers that for a man of the cloth, the verger had a surprising number of enemies. Was a local antiques dealer driven to murder over an illegal trade in holy relics? Would the head bellringer kill to achieve his musical ambitions? Or is the saintly Dean, whose black-cloaked figure resembles the Silent Friar and whose wife recently drowned, hiding a deadly sin?

The cathedral conceals many secrets, and it seems Cressy will need a miracle to uncover the truth. But then Cressy finds a hidden passageway to the crypt. Is this how the murderer escaped? The sceptical police lack faith in her theories, but can she catch the killer and save Nancy from the hangman’s noose? Or will she be too late to prevent another funeral march?

A totally gripping and deliciously witty historical murder mystery with a gasp-out-loud reveal, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Lee Strauss.

Fliss Chester has given us another delightful adventure with Cressida Fawcett and friends! Here Cressy is visiting her Aunt Mary in Winchester. She’s come to help her aunt with some interior design questions, and her dear friends Dotty and Alfred will be joining them as well. Winchester, in addition to offering a lovely spot for a vacation and a bit of shopping, is also home to a venerable old cathedral. While on a tour of the cathedral, Cressy comes upon the body of Anthony, the recently, violently deceased verger, with Aunt Mary’s maid Nancy standing over the body, holding a heavy candlestick that appears to be the weapon responsible for the man’s demise.

Cressy can’t help but start digging for answers, but she also calls for law enforcement assistance in the form of DCI Andrews and his sergeant, Kirby. When they arrive, they’re inclined to call it an open-and-shut case. Suspect found standing over the body with the murder weapon, what could be more straightforward? But Nancy protests her innocence, saying she and the verger were in love, and neither Cressy nor Aunt Mary can believe sweet Nancy guilty of such a heinous crime. So Cressy enlists Dotty and Alfred’s help (eventually with Andrews’ blessing!) to see what more she can uncover.

I had to go look up what a verger was, y’all. (For those with inquisitive minds like me, it’s a layperson who serves the church in a ministry of organization, service, and welcome. That educational tidbit aside, Fliss Chester spins an engaging yarn here!

This may be my favorite Cressida mystery yet. The setting is fabulous. If I were visiting England, I’d gladly go potter around old cathedrals, and reading the historical details about Winchester Cathedral, while not quite as enjoyable as seeing it for myself, was a lot of fun. Chester also gave us a sense of the town environment by having Cressy’s investigations bring her into contact with local shopkeepers and church members, both lay and clergy alike.

And boy, do we have mysteries! Chester gives us not one but two murders, and for an added twist, has Alfred pegged as the murderer of one of them (or maybe both?). Then there’s the question of who might have wanted to sell the sainted relics of the cathedral enough to kill over it, and why some of Aunt Mary’s silver is in the local antiques shop. And is the Silent Friar really a ghost wandering the grounds of the cathedral, or a very real person up to malice aforethought?

Red herrings aplenty, Cressy (and Dotty!) wondering if this is the dangerous position they can’t get out of, lots of suspects with plenty of motives – Death in the Crypt has everything I love in a good cozy. Ruby the pug is the hero of the day, making the final discovery that ties it all together. And finally, Cressida, who has always been an avowed single woman, is realizing that those feelings she has for Alfred are more than just friendly affection! That move toward romance is the icing on the cake for me. I can’t wait to see where Fliss Chester transports us on Cressy’s next adventure!

Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book from Bookouture. I was not required to leave a review. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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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