Small Town Shock

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Small Town Shock (Some Very English Murders Book 1)

Last Free Dates: 29th May 24 to 31st May 24
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...Lovers of small town mysteries or cozy reads might like this one....

Moving to a small village from London, Penny is seeking to rediscover herself after years of corporate burnout. What she also discovers is a body, the joys of village gossip, an uncontrollable dog, and possibly a boyfriend, not necessarily in that order.

This is a very cozy read, much more about Penny’s day-to-day life and settling in to the village than the mystery of the body she discovered. While she wants to know what happened it is quite clear she’s an amateur sleuth and, as far as the police are concerned, a bloody nuisance. A nice touch is that, realistically, the police are not useless and are two steps ahead for most of it.  I cheered, as this is all too rare in sleuth books.

Penny is a flawed heroine, but she’s flawed in ways that make her more real. The stress burnout that leads to her abandoning the city for country life comes across clearly, as does her desperate need for something to do after so many years of frenetic office work. She makes mistakes, which is very real, and she’s definitely not perfect but if I had a complaint it is that she gets away without any real consequences. Adopting a dog she can’t control does happen, but once she starts tackling it, it is solved too easily. Things like Kali’s dislike of hats aren’t transmitted from the owner. The last dog I knew with that issue developed a habit of attacking police officers (with its frantic owner chasing after it, shouting they need to take their hat off). It is a miracle no one has been hurt yet…

The one thing that took me aback is that Penny just starts accusing almost everyone of murder. At one point it seems like she simply has to hear a new name in connection with the case, and she’ll start accusing that person to their face, sometimes without even having met them before. If this is a series, that won’t get her a good reputation with her neighbours, and in a small town she will be frozen out if she keeps acting like that.

The village itself has a definite character (and more than a few characters…) with all the local prejudices and local attitudes you would expect. For anyone who is familiar with English villages, and the suspicious view of new things – “We’ve done it this way for 400 years, we don’t need modern rubbish round ‘ere ” – this book will ring true. What also rings painfully true is most of Penny’s friends abandoning her when she leaves her job, and her painful discovery that despite being colleagues of ten years they have nothing in common but the office.

Lovers of small town mysteries or cozy reads might like this one. It is definitely very English, particularly in attitudes to the police in the community, but small town politics will be recognisable to readers worldwide…  

Rating: 3
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natalie (6 November 2017)
I love small town mysteries. It sounds like this one might be a bit too cozy for me though. I really appreciate that the police aren't utterly useless. I rarely see that happen. A flawed heroine is good but I don't like that she never has to face any real consequences. That takes you away from the reality a flawed protagonist brings.

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