Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Silver Rose Dating Agency (A Peak District Cosy Mystery), by Angelena Boden

Troubador Publishing Limited, September 2020

Elderly, charming Edna Reid lives in the small, English town of Hope, and has only recently retired from running a café, The Happy Oatcake. It's now run by Alisa, and Edna doesn't have to be up and in the still-cold kitchen at 6am. Instead, she occupies her time with crossword puzzles, and the occasional real-life mystery, to keep her mind sharp.

Widowed Kitty Merriweather has recently moved to Hope, and the Lavender Lodge, purchased by her late husband, Bob, when he was planning their retirement. Because make no mistake, Bob Merriweather did all the planning and the decision-making, leaving Kitty feeling that even after his death, the best she can do is to just go along with what he had planned.

Kitty believes that, now she's been widowed for a year, Bob wouldn't have wanted her to remain alone and unattached, so she has joined an online dating service--The Silver Rose Dating Agency. She is, unsurprisingly, not very tech-savvy, so she relies on Jack Beaumont, son of her late husband's former partner, to advise her on such matters.

It's not long before strange things are happening in normally quiet, peaceful Hope, and Edna Reid is determined to figure out what's going on.

There's a sudden rash of burglaries and petty thefts. The church organist, Ned Phipps, a computer professional with, theoretically, a good job with a nearby tech company, is drinking at the local pub, gambling, and getting into fights with John Snow, who is also a gambler, and has a criminal record. Ned's daughter, Indigo, is the leader, possibly the priestess, of what she and her followers claim is a Satanic cult. The church is suddenly plagued by vandalism.

Oh, and Kitty's handsome, charming new beau, whom she met through the Silver Rose Dating Agency, is, he says, in Bali on a job contract. First he needs a few pounds to top up his phone, because rates are so high there. Then, he drops in the water and needs a larger sum to replace it quickly. More objective people, such as her new friend, Edna Reid, find this suspicious, but Kitty isn't ready to listen.

And Kitty isn't the only one in town who has met someone through Silver Rose, and is now getting suspicious requests for money.

What's going on? And are these distressing events connected in any way?

It's a light, entertaining mystery, with some likeable, enjoyable characters. Even some of the unlikeable characters turn out to have some better traits than one might suspect at first. Nothing really heavy, here, and a good choice if you're looking for a light, upbeat read.

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

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