Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Murder Mystery by Alice Castle! This is the first in Castle’s series featuring Beth Haldane, and I am hooked!
The Murder Mystery:
Meet Dulwich Village’s most daring resident, Beth Haldane. Mother to a sweet little boy, owner of a sulky cat… and solver of mysteries?
It’s a crisp spring day in Dulwich Village when Beth arrives at the intricate iron gates of Wyatt’s School for her new job as the historian’s assistant. But on a lunchtime stroll admiring the pristine grounds of this five-hundred-year-old institution, Beth is shocked to stumble over the body of her new boss Alan Jenkins: spectacles askew, his mustard-yellow tweed jacket covered in blood.
Gossip about outsider Beth spreads like wildfire. The parents in the playground are all whispering: did she bump him off to get her hands on his job?
Desperate to clear her name and protect her own little boy, Beth turns her research skills to hunt for the true killer. She soon discovers Alan rubbed his fellow teachers up the wrong way… could the handsome headmaster be involved? Why did Beth see a flash of the school receptionist’s bright pink jumper at the murder scene? And what is the groundskeeper hiding?
When Beth returns from her sleuthing to find her office in disarray and documents missing from the archives, it’s clear this prestigious school hides a deadly secret. But with parents and teachers panicking that the long-protected reputation of Wyatt’s is under threat, will Beth herself be in the murderer’s sights before the school bell rings?
Wander down the cobbled streets of Dulwich, where nothing is as perfect as it seems! Fans of Agatha Christie, The Thursday Murder Club and Faith Martin won’t be able to put down this deliciously gripping mystery.
This book was previously published as Death in Dulwich.
Beth Haldane is a young widow, raising her son and doing the best she can in the upscale Dulwich Village. When she lands the assistant archivist job at Wyatt’s, a highly regarded prep school in town, she thinks she’s finally turned a corner. But when she finds her new boss, Alan Jenkins, stone dead on her first day there, she fears her time as assistant archivist – and maybe her freedom – may soon be at an end.
This is a fun start to the series! Beth is earnest and hard-working and likable. I really felt for her when she worried (not without reason) that the investigation seemed to be focusing on her as Jenkins’ killer. She knew that, even though she’d been officially warned off sticking her nose in things, she had to try to clear herself.
The characters are delightful, ranging from thoroughly likable to downright creepy, and as Beth pokes around, she learns that more than one of them might have had a reason to want Jenkins dead. Small towns hold secrets, and Dulwich is no exception!
I liked the not-quite-romance between Beth and DI Harry York. It wasn’t an instant attraction/insta-romance, but there was absolutely a spark there. I hope they get to know each other better in future books.
The pacing was good, and I never felt like I was slogging my way through the book. Quite the opposite. I read past my bedtime to find out what was going to happen next. And the ending surprised me! When we first met the killer, I did not peg that person as the one who’d knocked off Jenkins.
With a great small-town setting, a murder that’s not heavy on the gory details, a hint of romance, and a heroine who takes action to defend herself (even if she tends to leap before she looks), The Murder Mystery is a mighty fine cozy. I really enjoyed it, and I’ve got to keep on with the series. Five stars for a good escapist read!