My thanks go out to Sarah, representing publisher Bookouture, for saving me a place on this lovely ‘Books On Tour’ schedule.
I also need to thank the great NetGalley team, for always making life so easy when downloading review copies.
A BODY AT THE ALTAR – (Kate Palmer #4)
Nurse Kate Palmer thought the pretty Cornish village of Tinworthy would be the perfect place for a peaceful retirement. She couldn’t have been more wrong! But even she is shocked when she attends a beautiful wedding at St. Pirin’s Church and the handsome groom drops dead in front of her very eyes.
While the rest of the wedding party panics, Kate notices the strange behaviour of the not-so-blushing bride and the posh mother-in-law – and vows to find out the truth behind the poor young man’s sudden demise. Especially when the new detective Charlotte Martin makes it known that she doesn’t want Kate involved – and also shows an interest in Woody Forrest, Kate’s partner in crime-solving.
Undeterred, Kate discovers this isn’t the only wedding to have been sabotaged. A series of peculiar letters contain the clues Kate needs to get to the heart of the matter. But is the mystery letter writer behind the unusual deaths? Or is more than one person responsible for the strange goings on in the seaside village…
As Kate digs deeper, she adds more suspects to her growing list: the world-weary vicar, the unlucky-in-love cleaner and the bride’s former flame. But, as a pair of boots bring Kate closer to the killer, it becomes clear their investigation has placed Woody in danger.
Aged 18, Dee arrived in London from Scotland at the beginning of the swinging sixties, and typed her way round the West End for a couple of years before joining BOAC (forerunner of British Airways) in Passenger Services for 2 years, and then as an air stewardess on long haul routes for 8 years.
After that she conducted market research at Heathrow for both the government statistics and for BA, before becoming a sales rep. She was also the receptionist at the Thames Television Studios in Teddington when they had the franchise.
Dee has since relocated to Cornwall, where she spent 10 years running a small B&B, before turning to writing full time.
She lives with her husband, and her family still live close by.
Connect with Dee on Facebook
Follow Dee on Twitter
“If you were going to get married in a quaint old Cornish church, on a glorious autumn day, you couldn’t do better than this, Kate Palmer reckoned, looking around the interior of St Piran’s. The sun was shining through the stained-glass windows on the sweet-pea-coloured outfits of the female wedding guests, bathing them in a heavenly luminescence – on the bride’s side anyway”
“These two might be able to distance themselves from a murder victim; after all, that was their line of work, their way of thinking. Kate, though, was always affected by the deaths she’d been involved in solving; they were people to her, not bodies”
“You’ve now become known as the local super-sleuth, Miss Marple or whatever. Cats might have nine lives, but you bloody well don’t. So leave them all to it, otherwise you’ll antagonise someone – probably the someone who writes the letters – and you could be in trouble all over again. Come on, Kate, you’re the only sister I’ve got! Take up crochet or something!”
“If she’d learned anything over this past year it was that the most innocent-looking and sounding women were not necessarily what they seemed”
“Remember what I told you before: every murderer needs a motive, a means and an opportunity”
“I’m sorry too. Because it seems to me that I am no longer of any importance to you. I’m only someone who stops you doing what you want”
“Can Kate solve the murder and save the man she loves at the same time?”
How much more can my poor nerves take with that vital fourth element, ‘you can’t be dead’, which for me is always the mark of a good story! Yes, this one hits the ground running from the very first page. From then on the action is pretty much non-stop and relentless. The ending is one of the most satisfying I have read for some time and ties up those niggling loose ends beautifully. But goodness, how close can two people get to not making it out in one piece and how much longer can their luck hold out for? If they were cats they would definitely have used up all nine lives by now!
How many murderous misdeeds can occur in one small town, in such a short space of time and how does Kate manage to get herself drawn into the thick of the action every time? These locals most definitely aren’t people to be trifled with when they consider themselves to have been wronged. The local police force is now on its third Detective Inspector since Kate moved to Tinworthy a mere couple of years ago and yet they still continue to be bested by her when there is a serious crime to be solved. Such is the reputation she has gained, the local papers have dubbed Kate, ‘Tinworthy’s Miss Marple’. However, I do believe that given things such as her age and the fact that she has the added advantage of a law enforcement officer assisting her with her investigations ( I firmly believe that Woody is retired by definition only), I fear I must reluctantly cede to my mystery loving friends on the other side of the Atlantic, in declaring Kate to be the British equivalent of Jessica Fletcher, who together with Sheriff Amos Tupper, solves murder after murder in the quaint town of Cabot Cove, Maine, which is more than ably matched by Kate and Woody’s own small slice of the beautiful North coast of Cornwall.
There are always plenty of red herrings and twists in any case with which Kate is involved and this one proved to be particularly tricky, with the final sting in the tail being totally unexpected by just about everyone, despite the copious lists which she assiduously and meticulously makes when trying to narrow down her potential suspects. Even with a small mountain of names and motives to grapple with, neither Woody, Kate, the police, nor myself worked this one out, until two people had lost their lives and a third had only survived by the kind hand of fate.
This complicated and multi-layered storyline, is well structured and fluently told in short and well defined chapters, which seamlessly keeps the action progressing at an even pace. There is definitely plenty of dirty linen to be aired and Kate finds out more about many of her neighbours than perhaps she might have wanted to, although I just know that she is going to store away all those titbits of information for a ‘rainy day’, which there is certain to be eventually! There are also one or two more light-hearted moments to this nicely textured storyline, which would be more at home in the gossip pages of a magazine and Kate will always be the first to raise a smile, when she can see that reacting to the funny side of a situation is obviously a way to bring the tension down, put people at ease and encourage them to unwittingly open up the gossip channel for her eager ears. Masses of wonderfully assured observational and descriptive narrative, together with some excellent conversational dialogue, offers a really good sense of time and place, making it all too easy to follow events as they unfold, whilst still not being able to spot the real villain of the piece.
Dee has created a multi-faceted, well drawn and defined cast of characters, who I could clearly visualise in my minds eye. Whether they are on the side of good or bad, all are authentically realistic and genuinely believable in the individual roles which have been created for them. Theirs is collectively a strong voice, with which they tell their own story, although some are more reliable witnesses, easy to connect with and relate to than others.
I actually did see a few snatches of the other side of Kate this time, which quite surprised me. When ‘Charlotte the Harlot’ seems to take a shine to Woody, and he her, Kate’s claws are busy being sharpened up and she does make a few unconcealed verbal barbs, before she realises that Charlotte isn’t trying to lure Woody from her side and that they can all three work amiably together to solve this complicated and as it transpires, most dangerous of cases.
Will Kate and Woody be back to fight another day, or are they really going to hang up their investigative hats for good? I most certainly hope not, as each time I close the final page on one of their adventures, it is like saying au revoir to a couple of good friends as they take with them my wish that they visit again very soon, so long as they bring their fun loving, four legged friend, Barney with them of course!
A complimentary download of this book for review purposes, was made available by Bookouture and supplied by NetGalley
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!