SERIES: A Kate Hamilton Mystery #1
GENRE: Traditional Mystery/British
PUBLISHER: Crooked Lane Books
RELEASE DATE: April 9, 2019
On a remote Scottish island, American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton wrestles with her own past while sleuthing a brutal killing, staged to recreate a two-hundred-year-old unsolved murder.
Autumn has come and gone on Scotland’s Isle of Glenroth, and the islanders gather for the Tartan Ball, the annual end-of-tourist-season gala. Spirits are high. A recently published novel about island history has brought hordes of tourists to the small Hebridean resort community. On the guest list is American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton. Kate returns reluctantly to the island where her husband died, determined to repair her relationship with his sister, proprietor of the island’s luxe country house hotel, famous for its connection with Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Kate has hardly unpacked when the next morning a body is found, murdered in a reenactment of an infamous unsolved murder described in the novel—and the only clue to the killer’s identity lies in a curiously embellished antique casket. The Scottish police discount the historical connection, but when a much-loved local handyman is arrested, Kate teams up with a vacationing detective inspector from Suffolk, England, to unmask a killer determined to rewrite island history—and Kate’s future.
“On the Isle of Glenroth, memories and regrets lay as thick on the ground as yellow gorse in autumn.”
I love traditional British mysteries – they’re a different level of cozy mystery because you just want to cozy up with them in front of a roaring fire and a warm quilt. Debut novelist Connie Berry has crafted a delicious, atmospheric mystery with rich language, a relatable heroine, and a tangible setting. Did I mention it’s set on an island in Scotland and there’s a yummy British detective who is staying at the inn too?
The opening sentences (including the one I quoted above) immediately drew me in, and the pages that followed kept me riveted to the almost poetic word-crafting and the complex & intriguing plot. Antiques dealer Kate Hamilton is a middle-aged heroine who is returning to the island where her husband died a tragic death three years before, returning after a frantic summons from her estranged sister-in-law. But before Elenor can explain why she needed Kate’s help, more tragedy strikes and soon Kate finds herself drawn into an investigation where “every question raised others. Every clue deepened the confusion.” Berry cleverly weaves together a tapestry of suspects that kept me guessing every time I thought I had it figured out, and readers shouldn’t relax until the very last word has been read. There’s also a bit of a split-time angle as well that serves to further enhance both the atmosphere and the mystery.
Bottom Line: Berry’s debut novel is a warm, cozy delight from start to finish, embodying everything that is lovely about British mysteries while adding an American flair as well, courtesy of the easy-to-love heroine Kate Hamilton. I am definitely looking forward to more books in this series, to seeing where Kate’s amateur sleuthing – and relationships – take her next, and to the treat of every well-placed word and subtle notes of grace in future books by this author.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 5 stars / A must-read!
Like her main character, Connie Berry was raised by charmingly eccentric antique collectors who opened a shop, not because they wanted to sell antiques but because they needed a plausible excuse to keep buying them. Connie adores history, off-season foreign travel, cute animals, and all things British. She lives in Ohio with her husband and adorable Shih Tzu, Millie.
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