Book Review and Blog Tour: Murder at the Gardens by Lisa Cutts

  • Title: Murder at the Gardens
  • Author: Lisa Cutts
  • Publisher: Bookouture
  • Publication Date: March 29, 2022
  • Buy Link: Amazon

Book Description:

A lovely day out takes a dark turn when a complaining customer is found dead… Luckily amateur sleuth Belinda Penshurst is on the scene – and ready to investigate!

Belinda Penshurst has always loved Brabourne Gardens. A keen animal lover, she enjoys walking its winding paths and listening to the excited squeals of schoolchildren encountering the kind of wildlife you don’t normally find in England. So when one of the visitors is found strangled, she’s determined to learn whodunnit – and why.

The victim, Simon Carter, had a reputation for making trouble… But surely that’s not a good enough reason to want him dead. Together with retired detective Harry Powell, Belinda investigates the goings-on behind the scenes, and learns that some of the staff are more savage than the animals.

Is it Estelle Samuels, the anti-social owner, who clearly has something to hide? Or the security guard who takes his job too seriously? Most worrying of all, Belinda’s ex Ivan was there when the body was found, and she’s determined to clear his name. As suspicions swirl, one thing’s for sure: if Belinda keeps following the killer’s tracks, she might find herself in their sights…

Can she sniff out a murderer, before she becomes prey?

A completely unputdownable and charming cozy mystery. Fans of M.C. Beaton, H.Y. Hanna or Emily Organ will love the Belinda Penshurst series!

My review:

This is the first book that I’ve read in Lisa Cutts’ Belinda Penshurst series, but it won’t be the last! I jumped at the chance to review this because I love M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series, and I was not disappointed here.

Belinda has used her connections at Brabourne Gardens, a local zoo, to help her tenant and possible love interest Harry get hired on there as a security guard (unbeknownst to Harry). Harry’s first day starts off with a bang, when a rather obnoxious zoo patron is found murdered. To make things even more interesting, Belinda’s ex, Ivan, is unexpectedly in town, there to see what can be done about competing groups of protestors at the Gardens, one wanting to keep the elephants there, one wanting to see the elephants rewilded. Ivan keeps popping up in close proximity to the crimes, and he seems unusually interested in Estelle, the owner of the Gardens. Could he be the murderer?

Murder at the Gardens was a really fun read! The interaction and chemistry between Belinda and Harry is wonderful – I am totally Team Harry, not Team Ivan. Doesn’t matter that they seem to be in different social strata (Belinda, who’s come into some money and lives in an actual castle, and Harry, the former police officer), they just click. I was hoping Belinda and Ivan didn’t get back together. (Spoiler: they didn’t. Huzzah!) I also liked the fact that Belinda and Harry are a little older than the main characters in many books. I’m a little older than I used to be, and it’s nice to read stories where the characters are close to my age.

Misdirection abounds. There are animals – sometimes on the loose, sometimes not. There’s humor, and intrigue, and that spark of romance I mentioned previously. This book has a little something for everyone. The plot was just twisty enough that the murderer’s identity came as a bit of a surprise.

Highly recommended if you’re a fan of cozy mysteries, particularly those of the British variety. I can’t wait to read more of this series!

Author Bio:

Lisa Cutts is a full-time detective constable investigating murders for a living. When off duty she writes a fictitious version of her day job. She lives and works within the county of Kent with her husband and Labrador.

She is the author of the DC Nina Foster books, Never Forget and Remember, Remember. Never Forgot was longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award 2013 and the winner of the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award 2014 for Best Thriller. She has also written four books in the East Rise Incident Room series, Mercy Killing, Buried Secrets, Lost Lives and Don’t Trust Him. All four centre around DI Harry Powell and his Major Crime Team battling to solve the latest murders within the county. Currently she is writing the Little Challham mysteries, cosy mysteries set in a fictional village in Kent.

She writes a monthly column, Behind the Tape, for Writing Magazine answering police procedural questions from other writers. In early 2016, she was honoured to become the Patron of Rochester Literature Festival and help establish Murderous Medway, an annual crime fiction festival packed full of amazing author panels. As well as being on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book, Lisa has twice appeared on This Morning to chat about TV crime dramas Broadchurch and Line of Duty.

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