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by M.V. Byrne
Kensington, November 2022
293 pages
ISBN: 1496728351

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Isabel Puddles has "crossed the pond" to pay a strictly friendly visit to her friend Teddy Mansfield (aka mystery writer Archie Cavendish). She's never been anywhere, really, and is positively thrilled with just about everything she encounters. Her kids have gotten her a lovely hotel room just across from some classic English landmarks for the short time she's in London; even with jet-lag Isabel manages to see some traditional tourist attractions. Then it's off to Mousehole, Cornwall to stay in a lovely cottage on Teddy's "estate." She meets lots of people while she's there, and gets embroiled in some family history happenings. She also discovers a body in the garden, strangled with a garden hose. Because she was the one who first saw the hand sticking out of the garden bed, Isabel feels it is incumbent upon her to figure out who killed Hyacinth Amesbury. There are obvious suspects, and Isabel is too canny to put much faith in them. She also must explain how it was that Hyacinth was seen, in the garden, at least a full day after her death. How can that be?

This is the third Isabel Puddles mystery. The first two are set in northern Michigan. Byrne maintains the general tone of the first two books quite nicely. A small town in Cornwall isn't all that different from a small town in Michigan. People are people the world over; similar personalities turn up wherever one is. Byrne can put together a good puzzle and a good story. There are times when the whole "England" thing gets a bit twee for my personal taste, but it shouldn't ruin the book for anyone. The "strictly friends" aspect for Isabel's relationship with Teddy may or may not be changing; it's never clearly delineated and will probably be revisited in Puddles #4, wherever that may occur. One hopes that Byrne got more than a three-book contract!

P.J Coldren: I have been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and read broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. I live in Northern lower Michigan with my spousal unit, one large cat, and 2 fairly small dogs.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, November 2022

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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