Once Upon A Crime…

Nancy Hunter and her grandmother Jane Hunter run the Dedley Endings Bookshop, selling crime, thriller and mystery books, in a small, quiet Cotswold village where nothing ever happens…

That is, until the wealthy and reclusive Roth family open up their mansion for the first time in thirty years, inviting the people of Dedley End to a lavish engagement party.

While everyone is thrilled to finally look around the mansion on the hill, the festivities are quickly cut short when beautiful Lucy, recently married to young Harry Roth, is found dead after being pushed over the first-floor balustrade.

But who among the guests could have been capable of her murder – and why?

Nancy and Jane decide to investigate – after all, not only do they own a crime themed bookshop, they were also both named after famous literary detectives – but soon wonder if they’ve taken on more than they can handle. Especially when it seems the killer has worked out that they’re hot on their heels…

Nancy Hunter was a charming character, running her family bookstore alongside her Grandma, where they both get lost in the thrilling adventures of murder mysteries on a daily basis. Besides the company of her Grandma and two best friends, Penelope and Jonathan, the small town of Dedley End portrays no sense of excitement for anybody to stick around too long. However, when Nancy, Jane and Jonathan attend the Roth’s engagement party at their extremely wealthy manor, after its doors being closed for many years, Dedley End is about to take an unexpected turn and force Nancy to use the tips and tricks shared in her books to solve the murder mystery right before her very eyes. I really admired Nancy’s attitude and determination towards solving Lucy’s case and winning her the closure she deserved after such a tragic death. The Roth family were very much set in their ways, in which they wanted to protect themselves as much as they could, rather than find justice for a supposed family member, so it was lovely to see Nancy backing Lucy’s corner. In fact, like any unprofessional detective in these circumstances, Nancy, Jane and Jonathan explored more avenues, spoke to multiple people and pieced together clues more than the police did, which is really no surprise in fiction and in real life. 

There was a lot of twists, turns and misdirections within the plot of the murder and Victoria did a fabulous job in not revealing the killer too early on, nor making it an obvious choice. She made sure that each person of interest had a motive, whether or not they would use it, allowing the readers to constantly switch up on who they believed it were and when the killer is revealed, I was pleased with the outcome and hadn’t seen it coming at all. On top of Lucy’s death, another mystery was solved – the death of Nancy’s father. Nancy had been in the unknown for far too long when it came to the unfortunate and unnecessary death of her father, so as those secrets were slowly revealed too, Dedley End was able to heal. 

I really adored the community and the people within it – despite Dedley End not being at the very top of everybody’s destinations to visit list, the town held so much character and seemed like the perfect, cosy getaway… when there’s not a murder investigation going on, of course. Victoria really brought the setting and the characters to life, showcasing her talent through the pages. The people seemed to all care very much for one another and it was all very close-knit, which can definitely have its pros and cons, especially when an ex-boyfriend has piqued interest again and you don’t know what to make of it. I loved the friendship also between Nancy and Jonathan, there seems to be a lot of depth there that still needs exploring and I hope we get to do just that as the series goes on. This was the perfect cosy murder mystery for the autumn weather upon us, so get your hot chocolates, get your warmest blankets, snuggle up on the sofa or bed and get ready to solve the murder mystery of the year! 

Shelby x


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