Something a little different today? I’m still continuing my mission to get through a few of the Christmas themed books I enthusiastically (and a tad over-ambitiously) added to my festive reading list. Today, it’s a real pleasure to share my review of A Cornish Christmas Murder by Fiona Leitch: the fourth of her Nosey Parker cosy mysteries, this one was published as an ebook by One More Chapter on 29th November (just 99p for your kindle!). It’s available in paperback too, but seems to be temporarily unavailable in all the online places where I searched for it – hopefully a new print run will be on the shelves before too long (and you might like to order via your favourite book supplier). The e-copy I read was my own, eagerly preordered for publication day, and downloaded via Amazon.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that Fiona’s independently published Falling in Louvre was one of my favourite books read this year. In her own words, it was ““more than a rom, more than a com”, and one of those perfect little gems I really wanted to thrust into everyone’s hands and tell them to read it – the most gorgeous romance at its heart, and just the kind of escapism anyone could possibly want after those grim times we’ve been living through (you’ll find my review here). But cosy mysteries aren’t something I often enjoy – and the publisher’s mention of “for fans of Richard Osman” would honestly only put me off, rather than attract me – but I really did want to experience more of the author’s sparkling writing and wonderful humour. And the fourth book in a series? That rarely goes well – but I was happy to give it a try…
A PINCH OF PARANOIA
It’s three days before Christmas, and detective-turned-chef Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker is drafted in to cater a charity event run by a notorious millionaire at a 13th-century abbey on Bodmin Moor.
A DASH OF DECEPTION
Things get more complicated when a snowstorm descends, stranding them all, and the next morning they find one of the guests has been gruesomely murdered in their bed…
A MURDER UNDER THE MISTLETOE
Secrets mull in every corner – can Jodie solve the crime before the killer strikes again?
A Cornish Christmas Murder is a must-read mystery full of heart and humour – perfect for fans of Richard Osman and The Appeal.
Yes, I know I’m usually a romance reader – but if all cosy mysteries were this good, I might just be inclined to change my allegiance. And I really must start by dispelling any reservations you might have about this being the fourth in a series – it really doesn’t matter one jot, although it might make you (like me) want to download and enjoy the other three as soon as you can possibly manage it. This book has all the freshness and originality I so hoped I’d find – along with that thread of wonderful humour I rather expected, well-developed characters, and a great story I really loved.
Jodie Parker used to work for the Met, but she’s now living in Cornwall, running her own business called Banquets and Bakes – and she’s been lucky enough, through former school friend Lily, to get a pre-Christmas booking to cater a children’s party at Kingseat Abbey, out on the wilds of Bodmin Moor, in the throes of being converted into a luxury hotel. And she’s accompanied by her team – eccentric mum Shirley (what a wonderful character!), friend and Mancunian ex-nurse Debbie, her thirteen-year-old daughter Daisy and their Pomeranian Germaine. The snow comes down, and they have no option but to stay the night – along with the owner, the permanent staff, millionaire Isaac along with his assistant and young son, a rather grumpy Father Christmas, plus four Japanese tourists who’ve crashed their van and a mysterious couple seeking refuge from the worsening weather. And when, the following morning, one of the group is found rather gruesomely murdered, it soon becomes clear that it’s going to take a while for the police to arrive, and Jodie (showing why she’s also become known as “Nosey”) and her team decide to conduct their own investigation – it’s clear that one of the guests is the murderer, but none of them has an obvious motive.
What follows is the most wonderful story – a quite glorious mixture of classic Agatha Christie and every locked door mystery you’ve ever read, combined with more than a touch of Scooby Doo and the Famous Five, with a few Colombo moments along the way. The setting is just perfect – the abbey full of secret passages, priest holes, a tower with a hidden library (and that’s the only place to find a phone signal) – and it’s all used to wonderful effect. The humour simply sparkles, frequently laugh-out-loud – and all the characters are quite wonderfully drawn, as all the secrets of their pasts are slowly uncovered. The police do finally arrive – first Jodie’s DCI boyfriend Nathan, now well-used to Jodie’s inability to stand back and let him do his job, and then the rather more inept team from the nearest police station – and the mystery finally finds a very satisfying resolution, more the result of the amateur sleuthing than the more traditional approach. You really don’t need to be a crime or mystery reader to enjoy this one, although I’m sure you’d find plenty to intrigue you – much of its exceptional appeal is in the characters and the relationships between them, all those moments of perfectly judged humour, and there’s even a nice touch of romance.
I really loved every moment of this one – a Christmassy read unlike any other I’ve ever read, and absolute confirmation that Fiona Leitch belongs on my list of favourite authors. Go on, give it a try – you might just love it as much as I did…
About the author
Fiona Leitch is a writer with a chequered past. She’s written for football and motoring magazines, DJ’ed at illegal raves and is a stalwart of the low budget TV commercial, even appearing as the Australasian face of a cleaning product called ‘Sod Off’. After living in London and Cornwall she’s finally settled in sunny New Zealand, where she enjoys scaring her cats by trying out dialogue on them. She spends her days dreaming of retiring to a crumbling Venetian palazzo, walking on the windswept beaches of West Auckland, and writing funny, flawed but awesome female characters.
Her debut novel, Dead in Venice, was published by Audible as one of their Crime Grant scheme finalists, and her bestselling cosy mystery series, The Nosey Parker Mysteries, is published by One More Chapter/HarperCollins.