Friday, November 4, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Death Comes to the Fair by Catherine Lloyd

I received this book free from Netgalley. This did not influence my review.

I’ve been reading a great deal more historical mystery in the past couple of years, mainly because I’ve found a couple of fun series that keep me coming back for the next installments. One series I particularly enjoy are the cozy Kurland St. Mary Mysteries by Catherine Lloyd.

Book Four, Death Comes to the Fair, will be released this month. The reluctant pair of detectives, Miss Lucy Harrington and Major Sir Robert Kurland, are attempting to plan their wedding. Robert wants something quick, small, and local. Lucy would like that as well, but she has to bow to the wishes of relatives who insist on a large society bash, preferably in London.

Meanwhile, the concerns of Kurland St. Mary—where Robert reigns and where Lucy has grown up as daughter of the rector and so is intimately involved with the community—take precedence. Currently, that involves a local fair. Lucy guides Robert to take on the responsibility of judging the vegetables, a chore he takes at face value rather than with any degree of tact. He finds the whole thing rather silly. And when it turns out he’s awarded the lion’s share of the prizes to just one man, the verger, he scoffs at Lucy’s concern that it will cause trouble. It’s just vegetables!

Then the verger turns up dead. An accident? Or murder? Can villagers be so disgruntled over the distribution of prizes at a fair that they will resort to murder? Or is there something more complex and sinister afoot?

So, yes, there is an inordinate amount of murder going on around this couple, but these mysteries are all so well crafted that all the mayhem is believably unfortunate.

To get the full flavor of the relationship between the protagonists, you should start with book one: Death Comes to the Village. Roger Kurland is irascible and rather high-handed, but he meets his match with the unflappable Lucy Harrington. In the first few books, they have the argumentative type of relationship typical of the genre that develops into mutual regard and then love. There is a good balance between the mystery solving and the romance.

The current novel starts rather slowly. The relationship is settled and requires little in the way of development, so the interactions between them are fairly bland. And while the fair and the vegetable judging dilemma work well to set the stage, there isn’t a whole lot of tension until things get going. It’s a slow build, but the pace picks up and then you won’t want to put the book down until the clues all fall into place and the intrepid pair are back on solid footing.

This series continues to entertain and I’ll be waiting impatiently for book five.