Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong leads, wonderful mystery
Cons: All cons left in the past
The Bottom Line:
When man vanishes
Odd couple find their next case
Great plot, lots of fun
Can Edwina and Beryl Catch a Flighty Killer?
While I tend to prefer American setting for my cozy mysteries, I will follow an author I enjoy anywhere. That's why I started the Beryl and Edwina series by Jessica Ellicott, and I'm so glad I did. This dynamic duo return for their second case with Murder Flies the Coop, and it is another wonderful book.
It's been a few months since we last saw childhood friends Beryl Helliwell and Edwina Davenport. While they have settled into Edwina's house outside the village of Walmsley Parva in Kent, things haven't improved for them financially. It is while they are trying to come up with a way to make more money that they stumble into the idea of opening their own enquiry agency. And they have their first client, too - the village vicar.
Vicar Wilfred Lowethorpe actually wants to hire Edwina and Beryl because of his involvement in the local pigeon racing club. Mr. Cunningham, the club treasurer has vanished with club funds and several member's birds. He was supposed to be on his way to that day's race when he vanished. Did he run off with the birds and the money? If so, where did he go? Can Edwina and Beryl solve the case and prove their value as detectives?
Edwina and Beryl are very mismatched, but they make fantastic series leads. Edwina is a proper English lady, while Beryl is an American with several divorces in her past who is well known for her adventures all over the globe. But this makes them a force to be reckoned with when it comes to solving mysteries. Beryl has the experience with the darker side of the world while Edwina can handle the local politics required to get the answers they need. The two of them both provide clues and make deductions at various times, and the book makes excellent use of both of them as our leads. The third person narration bounces between them and does a great job of highlighting both of them. I do feel that Edwina's growth as a character is easier to spot than the growth Beryl is making as she fits into her new life with her lifelong friend, but that is a very minor complaint.
The plot is fast paced with multiple suspects and motives to what is happening. Believe me, my teaser just scratched the surface of what all is involved in the case. The solution is logical when Edwin and Beryl piece everything together.
The book is set in spring of 1921, and it goes a great job of evoking the feel of the time. It also works in what people of the time were dealing with. Not only do we learn about pigeon racing, but the investigation takes us to a nearby coal mine as well. We are reminded just how awful conditions were for the minors without ever be lectured.
And the entire thing is wrapped up in fun. The many characters we meet along the way are a delight, and some of them are sure to bring a smile to your face. Edwina and Beryl seem to both have a zest about them that easily comes through the page and infected me as I read. Really, it was hard to put the book down.
Getting to visit Beryl and Edwina again was wonderful, and I was sorry to see Murder Flies the Coop end. I'm already looking forward to their next adventure.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book.