Review: Murder Actually by Stephanie McCarthy

Murder Actually by Stephanie McCarthy
Release Date: February 1, 2013
Publisher:   Attica Books
Pages: 264
Source:   book provided by the author for review

A light-hearted cozy mystery featuring a small Hudson Valley town and a very reluctant detective.

Romance novelist Elspeth Gray hates mysteries. Not just real-life ones, but the kind with smoking guns, chalk outlines, and Prof Plum in the library with the lead pipe. Luckily, her picture perfect New England home town of All Hallows doesn’t seem the most likely place to find many of those, so Elspeth should be able to get on with her latest novel without anyone finding out that the ‘Queen of Dessert Romances’ is in frequent danger of burning her own kitchen down.

Until, that is, a dead body turns up at her book signing, carefully arranged to give an observant detective plenty of not-so-subtle clues. And then a couple more follow, until All Hallows begins to look like the set of an Agatha Christie dramatisation.

Persuaded and bullied by her clue- and sleuth-mad best friend Julia (who bases her crime-solving techniques on detectives who are (a) fictional, and (b) cats), can Elspeth find the murderer, fend off the unwelcome attentions of her ex-husband and persuade her agent that she is not the stuff of which mystery novelists are made?


Review: Recipe for a delightful read:
• 1 Romance novelist whose books feature decadent desserts, even though she herself can’t boil water.
• 1 Well-meaning friend who decides they can solve the murders by following the detective skills of a mystery-solving cat in a cozy mystery series
• Cast of characters right out of an Agatha Christie mystery
• An ex-husband who won’t leave her alone
• A new man in town that is very attractive but has a mysterious past
• Sprinkle liberally with red-herrings

All of these ingredients make for a fun mystery with numerous red herrings. Several times I thought I knew “whodunit”, only to find I was wrong. The author did a great job with planting clues and misdirection.

I enjoyed Stephanie McCarthy’s debut mystery immensely. This book is written in first person point of view, which takes a little getting used to, but helps us see life from Elspeth Gray’s view.

I like Elspeth: she’s a romance novelist, lives in a small town, lives the way she wants to, and actually calls the police when she needs help or is in trouble!

The door has been left open for future mysteries with Elspeth and her friend Julia. In fact, Julia has business cards printed up for their future “cases”, so reluctant detective or not, Elspeth will be on the case. I hope to read more from this author soon.

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