I’ve just started to read this series and am two books in but I couldn’t wait to share it with you. It’s set in different locations in Europe and has a dog – Napoleon, the Basset Hound – as one of the key players. Sounds like my absolute cup of tea.
Cosy mystery fans will love this!
The sleuths are two fabulous Italian ladies, Etta and Dora. To save on their pensions, they’ve decided to share Etta’s home and have saved some money to spend on travelling. To keep costs down, they look into homeswapping, and come across some wonderful destinations in Germany, Denmark and Czechia, and meet a host of lovely people (and a dog!) However, they get so much more from their travels than they could ever imagine – a host of new friends, an appreciation of different cultures and lifestyles, not to mention a dead body or two.
Take a look for yourself, and I dare you not to be drawn in 🙂
The Watchman of Rothenburg Dies
A holiday is a time to relax, unwind and see the sights. But for two adventurous sexagenarians, the sights have a tendency to include dead bodies.
Etta and Dora, both newly retired teachers, travel from their home in Southern Italy to a fairy-tale German town for their first home swap holiday, delighted by their neighbours’ warm welcome. But the welcome turns sour when the Night Watchman of Rothenburg is brutally murdered while his tour group takes photographs nearby, a halberd buried in his chest and a peculiar iron mask by his side.
When the murderer claims a second victim and the son of their hospitable neighbours becomes the number-one suspect, Etta’s analytical mind goes to work. Why was a shame mask left at the scene of each murder? Is there a clandestine trade going on behind the scenes of apparently upstanding local businesses? And why does every lead take her back to the sinister Devil’s Ale pub and the terrifying gang who lurk within?
Meanwhile, Dora has a puzzle of her own – how can she persuade Etta that a loveably disobedient Basset Hound called Napoleon is now a permanent part of their lives?
A Wedding and a Funeral in Mecklenburg
As two young people from different worlds are joined together in marriage, the murmuring among the guests is that the relationship is doomed. But only one knows the form that doom will take.
Etta and Dora, retired teachers from the South of Italy, arrive with their Basset Hound, the strong willed, loveable Leon, for a home swap holiday in a German mansion, just in time for the celebrations following the wedding of their hosts’ son to a beautiful Parisienne socialite. But the festivities come to an abrupt end when the bride falls face first into the wedding cake, a bullet in her heart.
Although the culprit looks obvious – the groom’s business partner stands in shock, a gun in her hand – indisputable forensic evidence clears her name. Calling on her burgeoning talent as a sleuth, Etta launches her own investigations in parallel with those of the police. But with matters of the heart seeming to play a prominent role, it’s the more sentimental Dora who comes to the fore to fill in the gaps. Still, there’s something elusive, some crucial little detail…
Then the truth strikes. And it is so diabolical that even the pragmatic Etta is left reeling.
An Aero Island Christmas Mystery
In the depths of the Nordic winter, the beautiful Island of Aero is steeped in pre-Christmas cheer and Danish hygge. But in one dark and forbidding attic, a gruesome secret waits to be discovered.
Two Italian sexagenarians and a stubborn, loveable Basset Hound are travelling across the sea to the historic town of Ærøskøbing. The ever-positive Dora is clasping her hands in delight at the prospect of their latest homeswap; her more feisty friend Etta is picking a fight with an equally belligerent Danish woman; and Leon? Well, Leon is saving a small child from certain death. Just another day in the life of a brave and noble dog.
Little do the three travellers know just how significant the people they meet during the ferry crossing are going to become over the next couple of weeks. As Aero rises before them from the Baltic Sea, an unsolved murder, a mythical treasure, an unrequited love and a bitter family feud await them. Can the analytical Etta, empathetic Dora and sharp-nosed Leon finally lay the dead to rest and lead the living to the happiest of Christmases? And who is destined to receive the most precious gift of all?
Prague, A Secret from the Past
A look of pure hatred cuts across a packed theatre foyer, where one of the revellers has only hours to live.
The morning after a convivial evening, retired teachers Etta and Dora, on a homeswap from the South of Italy, are rudely awakened by Leon, the adorably mischievous Basset Hound who’s ready for his walk – at quarter to six! Taking advantage of the empty streets and pausing to admire the views over Kampa island from Charles Bridge, the trio find themselves instead looking down upon a murder scene.
Recognising the striking red dress she had seen a glamorous businesswoman wearing the previous evening, Etta identifies the victim’s body for Czech policeman, Jan Baloun. But despite notable successes when sleuthing on previous trips around Europe, this time, the friends simply want to enjoy their holiday. And Leon? This lovelorn hound only has eyes for the pretty she-Basset in the flat opposite.
When their new friend disappears hours after telling them about the dark days of Communism, and Etta and Dora themselves narrowly escape being attacked on their way home, the case becomes personal. What is the humorous Lieutenant Baloun hiding? Who was the traitor in the US Embassy, leaking vital information to the secret police during the tense days in 1980s Prague? And what bearing could that have on a crime committed nearly three decades later?
Having only read the first two books, both set in Germany, I’m already hooked and only saddened that there are only four books in the series (so far 😉 I hope)
Dora and Etta are poles apart in personality, yet when they do overlap it’s quite a lovely thing to see. Their homeswapping holiday should be fun, in their teeny Fiat 500, but no driver is ever ready for the sharp turns and winding roads they face on their way, which only increases the tension between them (which is fun for the reader, not so much for them 😉 )
In book 1, they also assume ownership of Napoleon – Leon, the Bassett Hound – who was the tour guide’s dog and he helps lead them to the killer … well, once they realise he is more than just a dog!
These are highly entertaining stories with well-layered plots that draw the reader into the location to enjoy the history, culture, folklore and citizens therein. The two ladies are endearing and amusing, you can’t help but root for them as they prove that they might be retired but they are as sharp as a tack and not to be dismissed lightly.
◆◆◆ Pack your bags, jump into the backseat of Etta and Dora’s old Fiat 500, and join them on their travels around Europe. There’ll be mystery, murder and mayhem aplenty wherever they go. ◆◆◆
So, what do you think?
Are you hooked too? If you are, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!