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Tag Archives: cozy mystery
I rarely have the good fortune to pick up the first in a series, but this time I picked up a fun read, a cozy mystery called Dead in Dublin, by Catie Murphy. Not only is the writer excellent, but she also lets one have a very good view of Dublin, and Irish culture. The writer keeps the reader working to catch up with the mystery, too.
Megan Malone is an American retired combat medic, veteran of 20 years in the U.S. Army. She drives limos and town cars for a living for the Leprechaun Limo Service in Dublin, Ireland, and has for three years. She enjoys hearing her passenger’s stories as well as driving them through Ireland. She’s picking up a famous American food blogger & her husband, when the blogger drops dead in front of the Molly Malone statue near the restaurant they were having dinner. Her husband, a doctor, begins CPR, and Megan arrives from the nearby car to help. The restaurant owner is a friend of Megan’s, Fionnuala (Finn) Canan, is frantic about the fate of the blogger, and worried about her restaurant’s reputation, as is her partner, Martin Rafferty, who also runs an adjoining club upstairs, since both will be closed over the weekend. Megan is the chef, and Martin is the moneyman—finding loans and silent partners. Megan keeps meeting red headed handsome detective garda (what the police are called in Ireland), Paul Bourke, as she asks questions. He in turn, is both annoyed, and intrigued by the “Yank.” Fortunately, for Finn, the blogger didn’t have food poisoning. She was poisoned.
The story is filled with information about the city—street signs are on the buildings, making them hard to see, even to the natives. Housing is in short supply, and very old, historical, even. Doughnuts are still not like our doughnuts—they look pretty, but taste like bread with frosting. With the historical and cultural information, is a lot of computer and cell phone texting, calling, and Voning (Video phoning, a term one of Megan’s friends wants to make a “thing”.) As well as modern cultural run ins—one bit of gossip has the blogger having an affair with a young woman. At another point in the story, Megan is speaking to a slender, young adult, with long hair, and dressed in baggy clothing, gender undetermined. Altogether a very modern story, set in a very old city, among people with their own way of doing things!
Spoiler alert. Catie Murphy is also C. E. Murphy, writer of “award-winning fantasy and Scifi books”, quote from the back blurb about the author. She’s one of my favorite authors. I hadn’t realized who the writer was until I started writing this Friday Reads, and found the blurb!
2nd title in the Series, Death on the Green, is out.
Carolyn G. Hart’s Death on Demand is the first in a series of cozy mysteries located in Broward’s Rock, South Carolina, an island. Annie Laurance moved to Broward Rock to spend the summer with her uncle, he dies in a boat accident, and so she inherits his bookstore, remodels it, and names it Death on Demand. The story begins with a list of items, and an incident and death in a veterinary clinic. Then, with hints already placed, we meet Annie, in her bookstore, putting off a phone call. Instead of making the call, she receives a call from Max Darling, the young man she was attracted to in New York City. She left no forwarding information; he’s had to find her through a series of calls and detective work. In addition, because he tracked her to South Carolina, he’s also driven down from New York, to visit, and find out what took her from her career in the city. And away from him.
I had missed Ms. Hart’s writing as much as these two characters. Annie is a straight shooting girl from Texas with a strong work ethic, and Max “delighted in ambiguities, disdained certainties, and loved above anything to puncture pretensions.”* But he makes her smile and her heart lifts when she finds out he’s in South Carolina. And the tiny island has several mystery writers of some note living there full time, as well as a small town community. What could go wrong? Well, at the usual meeting of the writers, her landlord, a true crime writer, has told her that he’s going to share information in his next book—about his fellow mystery writers’ dirty laundry. And the writers are as varied as possible, thriller, cozy, police procedural, children’s and true crime. At the party, the lights go out, the usual kerfuffle of bumped tables, people shouting, and offering directions. When Annie gets the lights on, her landlord is found on the floor with a dart in his throat, and dead. When the sheriff arrives, he blames Annie, for both the death of her landlord, but also her Uncle, with whom she had a close relationship. It all spurs her to clear her name.
I will admit the series begins in 1987, so sometimes one has to recall the state of technology, not just phones, but computers. So much needs to be seen in the correct timeline. The island also relies on a ferry that crosses to and from the mainland at set times. Although there are private boats, and a marina, the story reads like a closed system. Also, the two main characters, (and the author), throw in references to mystery writers and their books, from the golden age of mystery to the present. Which, if you don’t know them, will have you writing lists of titles of books. And did I mention Ms. Hart’s writing? This is just the book to read, or reread, during stressful times.
Death on Demand, by Carolyn G. Hart, 1987.
*quoted from Death on Demand, Chapter 3, page 7, in omnibus, Death on Demand/Design for Murder, Bantam Book, printed in 2008.