Barbara’s rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Series: Alex Duggins Mysteries #5
Publication Date: 4/1/18
This is my first book by this author and therefore my first book in this series. The mystery is very interesting and you aren’t sure who the villain is until very near the end. I thought it was somewhat of a slow read with many characters and many strings to follow, but the mystery was still a viable one. I think that it would probably have been easier to follow had I read the earlier books in the series. So, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this as a stand-alone read – however, it did get easier to follow as I got further into the story. I did have trouble becoming truly invested in the characters, but maybe that comes from not reading the earlier books as well. There were a number of things that just didn’t make sense to me – for instance – why would the police accompany an adult witness to a crime home in order to explain why she was delayed. Also, why would it cause worry/panic for said fully grown adult when she had called to tell them she was going to be late. Then, there was the way the detectives treated Alex – she was the enemy one minute and their best friend the next. I’m not sure how Alex’s detective skills were in the previous books, but they were non-existent in this one. Things just happened to her she didn’t really do any investigation that I could see. If you are like me and want a strong romance to accompany your mysteries, I didn’t see it in this book. You have a father and son dating a mother and daughter. The younger couple is the central romance and I can see his love and affection for her quite plainly, but I don’t see hers for him. Again – maybe it is because I didn’t read the previous books.
Alex Duggins moved back to Folly-on-Weir after her marriage fell apart. She now owns and runs the local inn/bar/diner named The Black Dog. Luckily it is a very successful and profitable business for her and she has several quirky employees. She also has Tony Harrison, the village veterinarian for a friend and lover. He’s definitely in love with her and wants more from the relationship – and I think she wants the same, but she doesn’t show it quite as readily.
There is much gossip in the town about a new development and most of the people don’t seem to be particularly happy about it. Alex hasn’t seen it and as she is returning home from Stanton she decides she’ll just run by and take a look. As she draws near she smells an acrid stench wafting toward her in the waning light. It isn’t from someone’s chimney – it is a fire. As she approaches the construction trailer, she spots a man floundering on the ground with his legs on fire. She helps the man and calls the police and the fire department. As the fire subsides to the point where the firemen can enter the structure, they find a charred body. Thus – the first of several murders to occur in this small Cotswold village happens.
Strange things happen and Alex receives several back-handed threats. Why does anyone want to threaten her – she certainly didn’t witness anything other than the aftermath of the fire. Another mystery is coinciding with the mystery of the fire and that mystery has to do with Alex and her origins. Lily, Alex’s mother, is simultaneously dealing with issues as well. Will those issues finally cause Lily to Alex who her father is? You’ll have to read it to see, but I can tell you that I did not like Lily nor find her the least bit sympathetic. Because she was embarrassed about being an unwed mother, she won’t tell Alex anything about her father – nor has she told the father. How selfish is that? Alex is an adult and wants to know about her origins and she has every right to know – as does the father.
After three murders and a confluence of investigations, we finally have the solution and it took us quite a few twists and turns to get there.
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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”