Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture Audio for the ARC. It hasn’t affected the content of my review.
This was fun! I will read the next one! I have a really hard time with most cozy mysteries. I really don’t want to come across as a genre snob here, because I love genre. LOVE IT. But in my experience, most cozy mysteries are just not that well-written. And by that I don’t just mean I don’t like them, which is what most people say when they don’t like something but can’t figure out why. I mean that characters are usually flat; dialogue is pointless or not-real sounding to me; and sometimes poorly described (sometimes well-described!) settings like restaurants and libraries and coffee shops are made to heft a lot of weight of the narrative. The mysteries are usually not well-plotted or interesting to me. The relationships seem artificial. The prose is not well-constructed enough to slip into the background and let you believe what you are reading is real.
All that said, this book fell into exactly none of those above problems! The characters are fun, the dialogue is sharp and at times witty, the mysteries are well-thought out and reveals well-placed. The settings are fun and described just enough to give you a nice picture in your head, but the characters have depth and take precedence. The main conflict of the series (a woman detective starting her own business in a time where that type of thing is simply not done) is inherently interesting and used well. The prose does what it needs to and gets out of the way. We don’t learn much about our two main characters, Maud and her former ladies maid and now employee Daisy, in terms of concrete backstory, but we come out of the story knowing exactly what kind of people they are anyway. We see it in their actions and their words (and in what they don’t say and do as well).
The narrator, Helen McAlpine, does a fantastic job, and listening to her accent for eight hours was a good time.
So I have finally found a cozy mystery series that I genuinely like, and I will definitely be continuing on. Worth noting, I think this book would appeal to people who don’t generally like cozier mysteries, but who just like a good mystery, no flash or fuss, as well.