I didn’t really love this book. I went into it thinking it’s part of a mystery series. I’ve read my share of these and always by accidentally not knowing I was in a series. This is almost never a problem. It was here though. There was so much lingering information expected of me that I spent a good chunk of the book, before the murder happened, trying to figure out. How long she had been in West End, who was who to who and it was just a big ball of confusion really. My experience with mysteries series is each murder is a stand-alone case so it was odd to come into this as it was written like it was part of a previous novel and not its own separate case. Even television crime series, Closer, Criminal Minds, CSI, Law and order and the like, are all chuck full of back story that connects its cast together but you can literally pop in anywhere and not need to know this stuff for the present case unless it’s a two-part/rollover episode.
The following may contain spoilers.
There were other little things too. For instance, her son’s girlfriend gets all upset after Margaret finds the body. I’m waiting for the reason to materialise. It doesn’t. Usually, the first thing you ask is ‘do you know the victim’ and the person in question will either blurt it out or take a while before they can but they always mention why they are distressed; “I just met them at the club last night… we dated once in high school… she was my sisters best friend in elementary…” the list is endless. She is her son’s girlfriend surely she’s mentioned her family. Margaret’s boyfriend police officer drops this knowledge at the beginning of the case about the victim being like an aunt to the girlfriend, Gilly. My problem with this is, it’s been a year since he and the husband, Rick, fell out and Margaret says they’ve been friends. So I can assume she’s known both him and Gilly a minimum of a year if she can remember her boyfriend and Gilly”s father being friends. Yet here they are not friends anymore and she doesn’t know this? How long have they been dating that A: She doesn’t know their friendship is over, and B: that her employee who is also her son’s girlfriend has an aunt out there? It didn’t make sense.
Also, the big to-do about one of Margaret’s workers wanting less work-time so she could spend it with her husband which again begs the question how long has Margaret been there that she doesn’t know her staff is married. Does she not wear a ring? And, why didn’t she mention this marriage in any of the 9 books previously? Assuming she’s been an important fixture that long. It’s almost like this conversation happened only to set up the big party at the end which I was also thoroughly confused by. Why are we ending the book with a party? This isn’t mentioned from the time of its appearance until it happens so I forgot about it.
And as far as plot reveals go, the one I’m not mentioning was sufficient enough to link the murder and all other things connected to it in a beautifully packed case of goodies. It worked so exceptionally well that going to meet the killer for more information kind of blindsided me. It was the last thing I expected. I just thought they’d go to the court see justice served and be on their way. The monologue and the questions asked should’ve either happened before this or not at all. At this point, I was psyched up and ready for the book to end or some hint to the possible next mystery.
The mystery part of the book was great. No complaints there. It flowed well dropping its clues and hints at the appropriate times. I loved it. I wish there was more of that. Especially the humour. It be the biggest lie ever if I didn’t say I laughed out loud a lot reading this. It’s just unfortunate a lot of the stuff surrounding the mystery didn’t play a direct part with it and required previous book reading. Even still stuff like the husband, and why no one knows of the relationship between the girlfriend’s mom and victim until this novel, with the exception of Margaret’s boyfriend David, I doubt could be answered. Other things probably would become more confusing had I known just how long Margaret’s been there so perhaps it’s best I didn’t know how long she’s been in West End.
Lastly, if she has a side hustle investigation business, why does the book read like she just accidentally happened into this murder-solving like it’s the first time this has happened to her. It’s the tenth book, surely by now there’s a way to firmly establish this fact into each novel before a crime has actually been committed. Don’t think I found out till close to the end of the book and was a bit shocked as this is part of a mystery series so that seems like something I should know if I happened upon this story by accident.
All in all the writing was fine, the humour on point and the mystery fun, but all the stuff surrounding that took up equal space and required previous book reading or didn’t lend themselves to the plot well. I guess I was expecting this to be like falling into the 20th episode of say ‘Murder She Wrote’, but set in a sweet shop where it was all about the mystery sprinkled with enough information about the cast so I wouldn’t be lost about who they were in relation to each other and the story. However, I couldn’t overcome the need that I’d have to read the other books in order for this one to make more sense and I found that odd for a mystery series.
If you’re looking for a quick cosy mystery with a few good laughs this book is worth it. However, if you like your mysteries to be self-contained cases with just lingering bits of continuous backstory from previous books you’re definitely going to have to read the first nine for some bits to make sense because this one isn’t written as its own entity.