Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Book Review: A Dream of Death by Connie Berry (Kate Hamilton #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, strong mystery, great atmosphere
Cons: None strong enough to mention
The Bottom Line:
Kate returns to isle
Faces past and present crime
In this strong debut

Don’t Miss This Debut

I keep saying I am going to cut back on accepting books to review so I have time to read books I’ve bought, and then I keep accepting books by new authors like Connie Berry.  However, with as enjoyable as her debut, A Dream of Death, is, I don’t mind in the least.

Kate Hamilton has returned to the Isle of Glenroth off the coast of Scotland, something she swore she would never do after the death of her husband three years ago.  However, a plea from her sister-in-law, Elenor, draws her back to her husband’s family home, how a hotel.  Elenor says she needs help of some kind, but she won’t say more until after the Tartan Ball she is hosting for the island’s residents the night that Kate arrives.

In the middle of the ball, Elenor makes a couple of announcements that shock the other residents of the island.  And the next morning, she is dead.  It is obviously murder, and Kate sees the parallels to a 200-year-old crime on the island, one that had recently been brought back to prominence thanks to a bestselling novel.  The police dismiss the similarity as a coincidence, but is Kate on to something?

This book takes place in late October, and you can feel the cold weather on every page of the book.  In fact, the cold weather combined with the old house where Kate is staying combine to give the book a bit of a Gothic feeling.  Add to that a possible ghost or two, and you’ve got plenty of atmosphere to pull you into the book.

That feeling is only intensified by the fact that Kate doesn’t feel she can trust anyone.  And as events unfold, she finds motives for just about everyone she’s met, most of whom she didn’t know before this trip.  That gives us lots of suspects to consider, and they are all well developed.  Kate herself is strong, and I feel like I got to know her well as she worked through not only this plot but the feelings that being back on the island brought up in her.

As you might have gathered, there is a lot going on in this book, yet all that is balanced perfectly.  The pace is excellent with something always happening to move the plot forward.  My life was conspiring to keep me from reading, and it was frustrating because I wanted to get back to Kate to find out what was going on.  The climax surprised me yet wrapped things up perfectly.

While this book takes Kate away from her home in Ohio, we get a sense of her family life as the book unfolds.  Kate runs an antique shop, and her knowledge of antiques comes into play in the book in a way that kept my interest.  Meanwhile, I’d love to get to meet her mom and her children in future books.

While it might not help cut down the books I’ve bought and haven’t read, I’m glad I read A Dream of Death.  This is a strong, atmospheric debut that will have you turning pages late into the night.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. Mark, thank you for taking time to read A Dream of Death and for your review. I'm honored--and thrilled that you liked the story and Kate.

  2. This is my struggle too. I keep meaning to cut down on my review books but I can't resist a tempting review book! This premise definitely grabs me! I can't resist an old murder so I have to add this one to my TBR!