Thank you to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Daggers at the Country Fair, the second book in Catherine Coles’ series of cozy mysteries featuring Martha Miller.
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!
Are you a fan of Agatha Christie mysteries? Then you would agree there’s nothing more enjoyable than a classical whodunnit set in a small village with a likeable amateur sleuth and their endearing sidekick and other traditional secondary characters.
Daggers at the Country Fair is the second book in a series of cozies set in rural Britain in 1947. Martha Miller is still considered a newcomer in her village of Westleham. Why, she’s only been living there for ten years and has only recently been able to make a few friends. The rest of the village still suspect that Martha isn’t an abandoned wife (her husband Stan Miller left for work one day and never came back), but is a cold-blooded murderess herself with Stan’s remains lying under Martha’s potato patch. No-one is surprised more than Martha when she receives an invitation to open a Village Fair in another village. Martha’s sister Ruby suspects it’s all due to Martha’s fame after the events described in book 1.
You can read Daggers at the Country Fair as a standalone or start from the second book, as the author masterfully includes background information without overloading the narrative. Still, the first book is so entertaining that I would definitely recommend starting from there. If nothing else, you’ll meet Martha’s adorable sidekick- the dashing vicar Luke Walker and see the evolution of their relationship from the beginning.
When Martha and Luke discover a body behind their tent at the Fair, they cannot help getting involved in the case given the fact that the teenage victim was the niece of Luke’s old friend, the vicar of Winteringham. It quickly transpires that the seventeen-year-old wasn’t universally loved in the village and had a bit of a reputation. We don’t have all the elements from the beginning, which would allow us to use our deductive powers to see the solution to the puzzle. No, we discover and analyse the significance of the clues step by step in a very engaging journey.
In this book we see Martha come into her own. She has always been independent and resourceful, but now there’s more- she isn’t afraid to stand up to more more powerful and more privileged who routinely shift blame and responsibility for their own shortcomings and selfish (and sometimes even criminal) behaviour onto those less fortunate instead of helping them. For Luke, this investigation is going to test whether he really knows his friends as well as where the line between him being a vicar and just an ordinary, decent human being.
I loved all the small and big details that set the narrative in the post-war rural Britain e.g the mention of Princess Elizabeth and the road signs which used to be covered during the war in case the enemy troops invaded the country. The role and position of women in society and attitudes towards unmarried mothers were very different. Crimes too, of course, as well as methods for solving them- no DNA analysis to mention just one type of forensic evidence we see so often in contemporary police procedurals. On the other hand, good old-fashioned information gathering was as important then as it is now, if not more so.
I really enjoyed this second book in the 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.
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.
Social Media Links