Daggers at the Country Fair
Winteringham Village 1947
As a thank you for her previous brilliant crime solving, amateur sleuth, Martha Miller is guest of honour at the Winteringham Country Fair. However, this time she is looking forward to simply judging dog shows and eating cream teas rather than apprehending a killer!
And Martha is just beginning to enjoy spending quality time with Vicar Luke Walker away from the prying eyes and gossips of her own village, when disaster strikes, and the local teenage femme fatale is found stabbed to death behind the tea tent by Martha’s trusted red setter Lizzie!
But who would want to kill such a young girl and why? Someone in the village has secrets to hide and it seems Martha and Luke have another case to solve!
Let the investigation commence!
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About the author
Catherine Coles writes bestselling cosy mysteries set in the English countryside.
Her extremely popular Tommy & Evelyn Christie series is based in North Yorkshire in the 1920’s and Catherine herself lives in Hull with her family and two spoiled dogs.
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I must admit to not having read the first book in the Martha Miller series, but even so, Daggers at the Country Fair more than stands up for itself and can easily be read on its own merit.
Martha Miller, Luke Walker (the vicar), her sister Ruby and friends from her village, have been invited to visit Winteringham for the country fair, where Martha’s reputation as a crime solver precedes her. As such, she is the guest of honour and is asked to perform the opening ceremony.
It’s all perfectly lovely until Martha’s little dog sits down, refuses to move, and barks and growls at something odd behind one of the tents. Keen to see what’s troubling her pet, Martha ventures to look what’s happened. Finding a young woman, stabbed to death, is not something she ever expected to find, nor is subsequently learning that the young woman – Helen Kennedy – is the niece of the village vicar, who just happens to be Luke’s best friend… and their host.
While Martha feels it’s not her place to get involved in the case, Luke and Ruby convince her to at least ask some questions of the young woman’s family and friends.
The answers Martha gets to her investigation raise doubts in her mind that not everyone is telling the whole truth, and digging deeper only causes her to worry about the repercussions of her discovery. Alongside this concern, Martha is also trying to underplay her attraction to Luke. She, as a married woman (whose husband has left her), cannot get involved with the vicar. This emotional conflict reminds the reader how different those years were for women, and Martha is visibly struggling with the need to stand on her own two feet while society still prevents women from being so blatantly independent. The plight of young Helen Kennedy also highlights how society treated young women in her situation back then, and how so little was done to support them.
The mystery is intriguing with plenty of suspects, and I particularly enjoyed the big reveal when Martha eliminates one suspect after the other until the inevitable killer is trapped, unable to deny their involvement.
This is a perfect cosy mystery with vibes of Grantchester and a nod to the limited role of women in those post-war years. With great twist, a forbidden romance, and a quintessential village fayre, what’s not to love?
Thanks to NetGalley and Boldwood Books publishers for my copy of the book.
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