Book Review and Blog Tour: Murder in a Country Village

Book: Murder in a Country Village
Author: F. L. Everett
Pub Day: November 23, 2023 
Buy Link: 
https://geni.us/B0CHMLFJMVcover

About the book:

England, 1941. With World War Two shaking the nation, rookie reporter Edie York wants to write the front-page news. But she ends up as the headlines when she stumbles over a body on the moors…

Eager to follow Churchill’s order to keep calm and carry on, Edie York has left the bombed-out streets of Manchester behind for a stroll in the countryside. But her rationed picnic lunch turns to ashes in her mouth when she discovers Joyce Reid, a well-known anti-war activist, lifeless at the bottom of a cliff.

Despite infuriatingly handsome DCI Louis Brennan’s less-thanamused warnings ringing in her ears, Edie is unable to leave the conscripted local bobby to do his work. Heading off to investigate, she immediately uncovers potential suspects galore. From alleged black-marketeers to the local land girl, a shell-shocked artist to Joyce’s on-off lover, Edie is sure the murderer is right under her nose.

Then Edie makes another gruesome discovery, and realises she needs long-suffering Louis on the scene to officially investigate. Can they uncover the killer hiding in plain sight, before it’s too late? Or will Edie’s own obituary end up featured on the front pages she’s coveted for so long…?

A fantastically gripping historical cozy mystery perfect for fans of Richard Osman and Agatha Christie. This is the second book in the Edie York Mystery series.

My review:

This is the second in F. L. Everett’s Edie York mystery series. I haven’t read the first, but that didn’t stop me enjoying this one.

Edie is an obituarist for a newspaper, with dreams of becoming a crime writer. When she and a friend go for a walk in the countryside, they come across a corpse. The deceased is one Joyce Reid, artist and very outspoken pacifist. The Athena House art commune had its base in her home, and she often shared her anti-war views with the village, in spite of their open and vocal disagreement with those views. There is no shortage of suspects, both villagers and Joyce’s fellow artists. But local law enforcement seems inclined to go on hearsay that Joyce took an unfortunate tumble. DCI Lou Brennan warns her off, but Edie can’t help but investigate.

Everett gives us a varied cast of characters. Edie is a charming, determined, independent young woman, someone who might easily be described as “plucky.” DCI Lou Brennan is no-nonsense, sometimes even abrupt, and dedicated to his work. Both have reasons for not seeking romance, but you get glimmers of attraction between the two of them that might smolder and eventually burst into flame. When Edie throws herself headlong into sticky situations (as she sometimes does), Brennan’s concern for her well-being shines through, before he tucks it back behind a professional veneer. I’m interested to see where Everett takes them in future books.

The artists who Joyce essentially took under her wing are also an interesting lot, and as the story unfolds, we see that each of them has some hidden resentment with the situation at Athena House. Could one of them have snapped and killed Joyce? Athena House is a hot mess of bed-hopping free love, and you have to wonder if someone didn’t like sharing. I sometimes thought the villagers frowned on Athena House’s moral compass as much as they did Joyce Reid’s pacifist (and, to the villagers, unpatriotic and even communist) leanings.

The murder isn’t tagged as an actual murder until a good way into the book, and Everett gives us other story arcs to unravel, too. There’s the side quest of who sent Edie’s co-worker Ethel lilies and why; Edie’s lost friendship with Suki and whether there is hope for reconciliation; and teenagers who go missing from Joyce’s village at about the same time she dies. Each story unfolds in good time, and Everett gives us some characters we may meet again.

The setting is almost like a character unto itself. Everett gives us a real feel for what wartime Britain was like – the shortages, the sacrifices, the injured soldiers returning home for care. And Edie may be working, but she hasn’t yet been given the opportunity to achieve the career goal she’s really hoping for. The wartime effort didn’t mean women were immediately considered equal to men in terms of employment, just that women were who was available to get the work done while so many of the men were off fighting.

This was a thoroughly charming book, and I recommend it to anyone who likes cozy mysteries with a bit of history to them and light on the romance.

Thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for the review copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

About the author:

Flic Everett is a Mancunian writer who now lives in a cottage in the beautiful West Highlands with her patient husband and two deranged cocker spaniels. She still misses Manchester, and returns like a homing pigeon every month to see family and friends. She spends a lot of time writing on trains.

Flic has owned an award-winning vintage shop, guest-presented Woman’s Hour and was once a part-time tarot reader. She has a grown up son who makes her laugh more than anyone on earth, and she likes reading, painting, cooking, clothes, animals, Art Deco and rummaging in charity shops for bargains. Her greatest fear is being stranded without a book. She has spent many years as a freelance journalist and editor for national newspapers and magazines and can’t believe she’s finally allowed to make up stories from the comfort of her own home.

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