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Review of 'Death Comes To Bishops Well' - Anna Legat

When Sam Dee moves to the beautiful Wiltshire village of Bishops Well, he expects a quiet life of country walks and pub lunches. OK, so his new neighbour, Maggie Kaye, is a little peculiar, but she’s very nice – and his old pal Richard Ruta lives just down the road.

But when Richard throws one of his famous parties, things take a sinister turn. Sam, Maggie and the rest of the guests are dumbfounded when Richard falls down dead. A horrible tragedy – or a cunningly planned murder?

With a village full of suspects – and plenty of dark secrets – just who exactly would want to bump off their host? Is there a connection to another mysterious death, nearly twenty years before?

Armed with her local knowledge, Maggie – with Sam’s reluctant but indispensable help – is soon on the case. But when the body count starts to rise, will sleepy Bishops Well ever be the same again?

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I knew this book was going to keep me on my toes right from the beginning when the description of one of the female characters was more akin to what I'd expect to find in a romcom. It made me wonder what the purpose of the description was (as it was obvious that it was done for a reason) and later in the plot, all became clear. The world it is set in is so familiar and I've read so many romcoms lately that at times I found I had to keep reminding myself that this was cosy crime not romance, although as this is the first book in the series, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if there might be a hint of romance in the future for the two main characters. It certainly felt as if that possibility was floating around them.

The plot was interesting and kept me engaged right up to the final pages. The central issue which seemed to be at the heart of it was certainly believable - it bore a passing resemblance to a high profile case in Britain - and the reactions of the people to it, were entirely in character. However, the element of the book which captured my interest the most was actually the portrayal of 'little' Britain. I absolutely adored the description of Bishops Well, its inhabitants and the surrounding countryside. I live in a small town, which often gets described on the local Facebook page (by those who are outsiders and therefore know no better!) as a village. It never fails to provoke a slew of responses which do not address the issue raised, but point out (in varying levels of heated indignation) that Brightlingsea is a town, not a village. In fact, the writers often point out, it has a long and interesting history which proves it is a town. it may once have been a village at some point in the dim and distant past, but nowadays it is most definitely a town and to call it a village is to insult that proud heritage and its residents... You get the idea!

The other thing that really resonated with me was the unusual festivities which Sam recounts interrupting when he first visited Bishops Well. They reminded me very much of meeting my sister and brother-in-law in Mayfield in September and witnessing The Bonfire Society organised torch-lit parade through the town. Torch lit, stalls in the street, fireworks but in spite of the name, no bonfire and in SEPTEMBER... It was a fabulous experience but utterly bizarre if you don't know the reasons behind the festivities. Anna Legat really captures this spirit in the opening pages of the book.

The world of Bishops Well is real and right on our doorstep. It's a place I've visited frequently and although the book fits very definitely within the cosy crime genre, its strength comes from the world it inhabits because it is very much grounded in real life Britain and sometimes, that can be quite unnerving!

Anna Legat is a Wiltshire-based author, best known for her DI Gillian Marsh murder mystery series. Murder isn't the only thing on her mind. She dabbles in a wide variety of genres, ranging from dark humorous comedy, through magic realism to dystopian. A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She has lived in far-flung places all over the world where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. Anna writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.

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Anna Legat
Anna Legat
05 sept 2021

Many, many thanks for your absolutely wonderful review of Death Comes to Biships Well!

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