Book Review and Blog Tour: Murder at the Priory Hotel by Merryn Allingham

Book: Murder at the Priory Hotel
Author: Merryn Allingham
Pub Day: July 8, 2022 
Buy Link: Amazon:

Book Description:

Join Flora Steele – bookshop owner, bicycle rider, and amateur detective – as she faces her most puzzling case yet!

Sussex, 1957: When Flora Steele and handsome crime writer Jack Carrington attend the grand re-opening of the Priory Hotel in the beautiful little village of Abbeymead, their day out is cut short when the flame-haired female singer in the band suddenly drops dead before their eyes.

Flora is stunned by the unexpected turn of events and immediately deduces foul play. Beverly Russo was a spirited young woman with a big voice and Flora is determined to get to the bottom of her untimely demise – especially as the detective sergeant leading the investigation is so hopeless. The first clue in the extraordinary case is Beverly’s missing ruby ring…

As Flora makes her enquiries, she discovers that Beverly wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and there’s more than one person in Abbeymead who had reason to dislike her. But who had the biggest motive: Beverly’s former beau Tommy May, jealous love rival Sally Jenner, or the local doctor who seems to be up to no good…

Then one of the suspects is found dead in the woods near the Priory Hotel. The murder weapon – a musical instrument. As the investigation reaches a high note, Flora knows she must find the culprit and make them face the music before anyone else is hurt. But will Flora’s tenacity put a dangerous spotlight on both her and Jack?

A delightful cozy crime novel, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, Faith Martin and Joy Ellis!

My review:

Merryn Allingham has another winner with Murder at the Priory Hotel! Here, Flora, Jack, and everyone in Abbeymead is gathering to celebrate the grand re-opening of the Priory Hotel. Sally Jenner has bought it and has big plans. But those plans grind to a halt when Beverly Russo, the lead singer of the band brought in for the big day, drops dead on stage. Heart attack? Poison? Electrocution?

Flora and Jack are once again in the thick of things when police progress is painfully slow. This time, they’re both aware of their growing feelings for each other, and so aren’t as quick to jump in to help. But when Sally asks Flora for help, fearing that she will lose the hotel, Flora can’t say no.

Once again, there’s no shortage of suspects! At one point Flora wonders whether Sally herself could have done the deed. It turns out many people have connections to Beverly, and most of those connected to her have a reason to hate her. Even Dominic, on whom Sally is sweet, has ties to Beverly (and he may not be who he purports to be, either). Who acted on that passion and ended her life?

The most frustrating thing about this book for me was the efforts both Jack and Flora made to keep themselves away from each other. Clearly they have feelings for each other. Why, then, the dance to keep those at bay? I like the characters. I want them to be happy. It seems to me like they would be happy together (and then they could open a detective agency, and wouldn’t that be fun?!).

This is a light, clean read with enough twists and turns to keep the story moving. No extreme gore or adult situations here. It’s the kind of book you can just lose yourself in and forget about life for a while! I think that may be just what we need in this crazy world. Five stars from me!

Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy of this book from Bookouture and NetGalley. All opinions are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

About the author:

Merryn taught university literature for many years, and it took a while to pluck up the courage to begin writing herself. Bringing the past to life is a passion and her historical fiction includes Regency romances, wartime sagas and timeslip novels, all of which have a mystery at their heart. As the books have grown darker, it was only a matter of time before she plunged into crime with a cosy crime series set in rural Sussex against the fascinating backdrop of the 1950s.

Merryn lives in a beautiful old town in Sussex with her husband and one last cat, Bluebell. When she’s not writing, she tries to keep fit with adult ballet classes and plenty of walking.

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