Friday, November 23, 2018

Murder Served Cold (A Much Winchmoor Mystery #1), by Paula Williams

Crooked Cat Books, October 2018

Kat Latcham was working at a radio station in Bristol, sharing a nice flat with friend, and dating a handsome guy.

Then the falling economy cost her the job at the radio station, her boyfriend took off with her flatmate, and they even took her car and her treasured memorabilia.

She's now back in the little village of Much Winchmoor, living with her parents, working in her mother's beauty salon, and listening to the local gossip--which is currently mostly about her failed love life.

Then one of the local gossips mentions that Donald, the local pub owner, is looking for a new barmaid. Temporarily, since his wife is away on a cruise, but it'll get her out of working at the salon while she looks for a real job.

The gossip there is just as bad, and still about her love life, but at least she's not working for her mom. But she also has to mend fences with her childhood best friend, almost-a-brother Will Manning, whom on her last visit she had a huge fight with about her now ex-boyfriend.

And while they are talking, they head out to the farm shop, where they find Will's father John, dead drunk, and one of the more obnoxious local gossips, just dead. And not of natural causes.

For several reasons, John Manning seems like the obvious suspect, and is promptly arrested. But John has always been a very gentle man, and Kat doesn't believe it. She's the only one other than Will who doesn't. Even John at least briefly believes that he must have.

Soon Kat is getting reacquainted with the little town she had planned to never live in again, asking unwanted questions and getting people mad at her, and discovering unsuspected things about the village elders, her school friends, and even Will.

Initially I found it hard to warm up to Kat, but she grew on me. Less expectedly, so did some of her difficult neighbors, including the gossips. She's in some ways very naive, and too sure of her own brains, but she also really is smart, and tougher than expected, and quite resourceful. The ending is clever and satisfying.

This looks like the start of a series with real potential.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.