Review Of 'Murder At The House On The Hill' - Victoria Walters
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 twenty 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…
Can they catch the murderer before the murderer catches up with them? Or will there be a deadly ending to this story?
Join the unlikeliest detective duo for the killer opener of The Dedley End Mysteries series, by a major voice in women’s fiction.
Cosy crime books, by their very nature, do not involve the same level of threat or peril as traditional crime narratives. Agatha Raisin, for example, is never going to have me as tense as the Strike novels. This usually means that I read them at a more leisurely pace. However, in this case, that didn't happen. I read this book in pretty much one sitting over the course of an evening. My husband and son were watching the original Terminator film - my choice of film for the evening and even that barely made me look up!
Sometimes, at the beginning of a series, it can take a while to really draw the reader in to the world the book inhabits. With this book, it took a mere handful of chapters. Nancy is a strong lead and I loved that she was named after Nancy Drew - another of my favourites and a childhood heroine of mine. The other characters are also really strongly drawn. My only slight criticism is that the revelation of Richard's true character didn't feel as though enough hints had been made prior to it happening. I felt that over a three year relationship, these traits might have emerged before they appeared to. That said, the agonising over the relationship felt very real, so perhaps Nancy had just been blinded to it all before. She was very young when they got together, after all! In the grand scheme of the book, this was a really minor point and didn't detract from the story in the slightest.
In terms of the plot itself, it's well-constructed and kept me guessing until just before the murderer was revealed and in this case, once you knew 'whodunnit' you realised the clues had been under your nose all along. I think it's the mark of a really well plotted book when you work out the murderer only a handful of pages before they're named. Any sooner than that and it's too obvious. If they're revealed and it's a complete surprise, not enough hints have been dropped earlier. Hence, this was perfect!
I understand that this is the first in a series set in Dedley End and I eagerly anticipate the next book. The final pages of this one certainly set it all up nicely! Another thing I loved about this book was that the characters, although well developed both in terms of themselves and their pre-existing relationships, have been given room to grow in both senses. There's a lot more for the reader to discover about them and a huge potential for their relationships to change and develop. Ideal at the beginning of a series.
Bring on Book 2!!
Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She's the author of the bestselling GLENDALE HALL series, which continues with its third book HOPEFUL HEARTS at GLENDALE HALL in September, as well as two other standalone novels - SUMMER at the KINDNESS CAFE, and THE SECOND LOVE of my LIFE. She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for two RNA awards. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim. Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.