When her beloved London theatre closes for renovations, costume maker Guinevere is excited to start a job at Cornisea castle, a centuries-old keep on a small tidal island off the coast of Cornwall. Imagine a whole summer full of stories of hidden treasures, fab food and long walks with her perky dachshund Dolly.
But when a reenactment of a medieval trial in the castle dungeons ends in real-life murder, and accusations threaten the castle's future, Guinevere and Dolly dig deep into the island community's best-kept secrets to unmask the killer and save their Cornish summer.
Conroy's novels are always packed full with the right ingredients for a perfect cozy crime story. She strikes a good balance so that when you've finish reading you don't feel stuffed, over indulged or filled up with extra spoonfuls of sugar but instead you are left wanting just a little bit more to satisfy your growing appetite for this author's books!
There are traces of things like the Ladies's Detective Agency or something equally appealing from the ITV Sunday evening schedule in Conroy's writing but there is also a lot of evidence of the influence of Agatha Christie in her books. Conroy's writing is warm, familiar, entertaining and well paced, but also show a secure understanding of how to set up and execute a good mystery story. She is able to manage the plot and characters effortlessly so that the reader is hooked and caught up the drama. For me her novel epitomises the cozy crime genre.
This is a new series from Conroy and having read several of her other novels set in various countries and historical eras, it is fun to start with a new cast of characters and embark on a new journey with her. The Cornish setting is an inspired choice as not only does it remind us of summer holidays and Aidan Turner, it also reminds us of Du Maurier and other gothic novels set in the landscape which can be brooding and full of history. Even though the novel is set in a fictional location, it feels believable enough and it's a clever ploy to have an island, a causeway, the sea and a castle as this holds a delicious and enticing appeal for the reader.
A new series and a new protagonist - meet Guinevere! As with Conroy's previous novels, the main character is a female and once again, she is likeable, pleasant and a perfect fit for this novel. Conroy is able to create characters who are full of energy, colour and spirit and it is easy to visualise and imagine the people and the scenes conveyed on the page.
As it is a crime story, I'm not going to talk about the plot but I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys cozy crime, to anyone looking for a new series to follow and anyone looking for an easy read to pass away a sunny Sunday afternoon or a few days on holiday. Just like it's bright, colourful and stylistic front cover, Death Plays a Part will not only entertain and engage you but will also give you a bit of a mental workout from the comfort of your sun lounger as you attempt to solve the mystery before all is revealed.Death Plays a Part published on 7th July 2017 by HQ Digital.
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