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#Blog Tour #Poison at the Village Show (Martha Miller Mysteries, Book 1) by Catherine Coles #Mystery #Amateur Sleuth @rararesources @Boldwood Books

Thank you to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Poison at the Village Show, the first book in Catherine Coles’ brand new series of cozy mysteries featuring Martha Miller.

Poison at the Village Show

With the war finally over the residents of Westleham village are trying to reclaim a sense of normality and the upcoming village show is proving to be a popular event!

Newcomer, Martha Miller, has high hopes for the village show. Since her husband Stan left for work one day and never returned, some of the villagers have treated Martha with suspicion – why would a good man like Stan simply up and leave? Was it something Martha did?

All Martha knows is that she’s hoping that she can win people over and hopefully they’ll but her delicious homemade plum gin, too and she’ll be able to make ends meet.

But as glasses of Martha’s gin are passed around, disaster strikes. Alice Warren, Chairwoman of the village show slumps to the ground after taking a sip. It’s clear she’s been poisoned!

Martha is shocked, but not surprised, when fingers of suspicion once again point her way. Determined to prove her innocence, Martha sets about trying to find the real culprit. But who would kill Alice and why?

Ably helped by the new vicar, Luke Walker, Martha quickly tries to get to the bottom of this mystery. But with the villagers closing ranks it quickly becomes apparent that the only person with a motive is Martha herself….

Will Luke and Martha discover who is behind the poisoning before it’s too late?

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My thoughts:
Do you enjoy cozy mysteries with an Agatha Christie vibe? You’re going to love the new Martha Miller series from Catherine Coles. Set in post-war rural England, it has all the elements we love in a classic whodunnit: a likeable protagoinist/amateur sleuth, an endearing, open-minded sidekick and other fairly tradional secondary characters, the small village setting with its relentless rumour mill and a crime which requires a careful examination of underlying motives, based on human nature.

Martha Miller’s life isn’t easy. One day her husband Stan left for work in his London office and never came back. While Martha herself and the police are convinced he simply checked out of his loveless marriage in a cowardly way, the villagers have a different ideas. Some of them suspect Stan’s remains must be lying under Martha’s potato patch. Others simply maintain Martha must have done something wrong to drive her man away. At any rate Martha isn’t exactly welcome in Westleham, but the financial strain Stan’s abandonment left her under doesn’t permit her move away. In order to make the ends meet Martha had to take in a lodger. Luckily, it’s her sister Ruby. To supplement her income Martha started making plum gin and even donated a few bottles of it to the Village Show. Little did she know how much trouble this gesture of goodwill will get her into. When the show chairperson Alice Warren is poisoned with a glass of Martha’s gin, fingers point at Martha and she has no choice but start investigating the case to clear her name and possibly save her own life.

I really liked Martha and her character arc. She is independent and resourceful. Martha has a lot of love to give, although showing her feelings goes against the strict, emotionally stifling upringing Martha and Ruby got from their parents. One of the most satisfying developments in the book was Marta gradually opening up to Ruby. Martha also has a lot of soul searching to do in order to understand what exactly happened in her marriage. The dashing vicar Luke Walker aids her in her investigations and helps her see things from another angle, including trying to understand why some villagers may feel resentful of Martha.

The plot was well-balanced and logical. It isn’t one of those books where all the elements are there from the beginning and you just need to use your deductive powers to see the solution to the puzzle. Here we discover and analyse the significance of the clues step by step in a very engaging journey.

What I liked the most about the book is all the small and big details that set it in that particular period of time: the rationing of food and other consumer goods, the role and the position of women in society, clothes, relationships, even the crimes themselves. There’s also an adorable dog- you can only imagine how difficult it was to keep a pet at that time. If you prefer tea to other hot beverages, you’ll be pleased to discover how important it is to the villagers’ life and what a valuable source of information it can be to an inquisitive mind.

I really enjoyed this first book in this very promising new series and can’t wait to read the next installment!

Thank you to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources, Netgalley and Boldwood books for the review copy provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

Author Bio –
The daughter of a military father, Catherine was born in Germany and lived most of the first 14 years of her life abroad. She spent her school years devouring everything her school library had to offer! Catherine writes cosy mysteries that take place in the English countryside. Her extremely popular Tommy & Evelyn Christie mysteries are set in 1920s North Yorkshire. Catherine lives in northeast England with her two spoiled dogs who have no idea they are not human!
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