Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Book Review: A Distant Grave by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Maggie D'Arcy #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, compelling mystery, great writing
Cons: All cons buried in a distant grave
The Bottom Line:
Dual locations
Work in well plotted story
I couldn’t put down

Maggie Faces a Case that Crosses the Ocean

Last year, I was delighted to read a new book by Sarah Stewart Taylor.  The only question that book left me with was where she was going to go with her new heroine, Maggie D’arcy.  I got my answer in A Distant Grave, and it was another winner.

Maggie is a homicide detective on Long Island.  Her latest case involves a man on one of the beaches.  He’s been shot and robbed, making identifying him the first priority.  It is looking like a random homicide, which are always difficult to solve, when Maggie gets an ID.  The man is an Irish national.  Maggie begins to wonder why the victim was on Long Island in the middle of February.  With a trip to Ireland already planned to visit her boyfriend, Conor, Maggie decides to do a little digging.  Will she uncover a motive for murder across the Atlantic?

My biggest question when I picked up this book was how we were going to get a crime that allowed Maggie to be involved in solving it from home and in Ireland.  The set up was genius, and yes, there are important clues that Maggie has to uncover in both locations.

In fact, the way the book unfolded was wonderful from beginning to end.  The clues kept the story moving forward, sometimes leading us in the right direction and other times leading us, and Maggie, in the wrong direction.

Since I read the first book when it came out last year, I was fuzzy on some of the details how that ended.  This book did a good job of reminding us enough that we could reconnect with the characters.  But that also comes with a spoiler warning.  If you haven’t read the first book yet, this one will spoil some key events of that story.  It is best to read them in order.

The characters growth here is wonderful and builds on the previous book.  Maggie and her daughter, especially, are dealing directly with the changes in their lives, and I appreciated that.  It was fun to see some of the other characters back from the first book as well.  And the new characters were just as strong.  I will say that some of what is going on in Maggie’s life was fairly predictable, and yet it was still compelling.

Yes, as I have hinted at before, this book is darker than the cozies I would normally read.  It’s more of a traditional mystery with a tad more violence and language than you’d expect in a cozy as well as the darker tone.  But if this intrigues you, you’ll be glad you picked it up.  These elements are sprinkled in judiciously to realistically tell and story and never overbearing.

One thing that makes this book so great is the atmospheric writing.  It brings the world to life, fully immersing us in the story, without slowing it down.  The majority of the story is told from Maggie’s first-person present point of view with the occasional part told in third-person past tense.  But it is always easy to tell when we are switching.

Just how into this book did I get?  It’s longer than the books I typically read, and I tried to factor that in when I figured out how long it would take me to read it.  But I got so drawn in I finished it faster than I’d planned.  The closer we got to the climax, the harder it was to put down.

A Distant Grave is an excellent second mystery.  I suspect I know where the series is going from here, and I can’t wait to find out if I am right or not.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. I love mysteries that give a good feel for place. This sounds like a good one!

  2. This sounds good! I already have the first book on my TBR and I'm so glad that the 2nd book was good too! Love when a series is strong.


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