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Murder At The Wedding
by Helena Dixon
Books On Tour
Review

My thanks go out to Noelle, 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.

Image of the Blog Tour Banner for the book 'Murder At The Wedding' by Helena Dixon

MURDER AT THE WEDDING – (Miss Underhay Mystery #7)

Cover image of the book 'Murder At The Wedding' by author Helena Dixon1934. Kitty Underhay steps out of the battered Rolls Royce and onto the gravelled driveway of Thurscomb Castle in deepest Yorkshire. She’s honoured to be a bridesmaid at her cousin Lucy’s wedding to the reluctant Lord Rupert Woodcomb, but as family and friends gather for welcome drinks, Kitty dodges intrusive questions about her own marital status by taking a stroll about the castle grounds. As she passes through the manicured gardens, a fatal shot rings out…

The valet, Evans, is dead. And Kitty can’t help but notice how rattled the man standing next to him seems. Could Rupert’s best man, The Right Honourable Alexander ‘Sandy’ Galsworthy, believe the speeding bullet was meant for him?

When she discovers that Sandy has been receiving blackmail notes, Kitty suspects that one of the assembled guests has plans to make good on their threats. The local constabulary won’t act on Kitty’s hunch, so, busy with her bridesmaid’s duties, she asks her beau, ex-army captain Matthew Bryant, to help.

The ceremony passes without a hitch. But when an anxious Sandy slips away during the dancing, Matt follows, only to make a hideous discovery: Sandy is dead, flattened on the terrace by some falling masonry.

Now the duo are sure that there is a murderer within the castle walls. But can they untangle Sandy’s final hours and catch this killer before they strike again, or will the wedding bells be replaced by a death knell for Kitty herself…?

Cover image of the book 'Murder At The Wedding' by author Helena Dixon

HELENA DIXON

Image of author Helena DixonHelena splits her time between the Black Country, where she was born, and Devon where she has strong connections.

Happily married to the same man for over thirty five years, she has three beautiful daughters, a tank of tropical fish, a crazy Cockerpoo, and a cactus called Spike.

Helena is a registered nurse, midwife and health visitor with a strong interest in dementia and end of life care.

Her hobbies include architecture, music, live theatre and green issues.

As a multi-award winning and best-selling author of contemporary romantic fiction, Helena was the winner of the RNA’s Romance Prize in 2007 with Marrying Max, and Love Story of the year in 2010 with Animal Instincts.

She now also writes historical Cozy crime, set in the 1930’s.

Keep up to date with all Helena’s latest news on her website

Follow Helena on Twitter

Connect with Helena on Facebook

Cover image of the book 'Murder At The Wedding' by author Helena Dixon

FIRST LINES

PROLOGUE

TORBAY HERALDMAY 1934

Net finally closing in on wanted man!

Exeter police reported today that they were close to capturing Ezekiel Hammett, wanted for the murder of Denzil Hammett in the city before Christmas. The public are reminded not to approach Hammett but to report any sightings at the nearest police station.

.

CHAPTER ONE

EARLY MAY 1934

‘Tis a good thing we’re nearly done, miss, the light is going a bit now.’ Alice settled back on her haunches and gave the newly pinned hem of Kitty’s frock a critical frown.

Kitty stepped down from her position on the footstool where she had been balanced while her friend had adjusted her new dress. ‘Thank you, Alice. I don’t know what I’d do without you.’

The sunshine from earlier in the day had now declined and the shadows on the walls of her grandmother’s salon in the Dolphin Hotel had grown longer. The loss of the sunshine had also brought an increase in the chilly breeze blowing toward the hotel from the river, rattling the leaded panes in the large bay window. An elegant cream embossed wedding invitation was propped up on the mantelpiece beside the clock and a small fire crackled merrily in the hearth.

Cover image of the book 'Murder At The Wedding' by author Helena Dixon

MEMORABLE LINES

‘Well, I blame Matt. I never used to keep tripping over bodies until I met him.’ Kitty laughed.

.

“Kitty’s independence and forthright views didn’t sit well with his parents’ more traditional views of marriage and a woman’s place in society”

.

“He had seen too many deaths in the suffocating, muddy trenches of the battlefield when the shoring had failed. He had witnessed the loss of men and horses buried under the sticky mud. Even now, so many years later, he would occasionally awake from a nightmare to discover he had wrecked the room in his sleep or walked about the house”

.

“Lord Woodcomb has made me aware of your reputation, Miss Underhay, as some kind of amateur sleuth. Whatever they may tolerate in Devon, I can assure you it is not the same here in Yorkshire. I would suggest you leave any idea of investigating to the professionals”

.

“I’m starting to wonder how Inspector Lewis ever became a policeman let alone an inspector after our meeting with Mr Whitlock. I’m starting to think he could not investigate his way out of a paper bag”

.

“It was all very well Kitty demanding her right to determine her own destiny and actions. She kept reminding him that she was a modern, independent woman, but not when it meant that those who cared about her, loved her, had to watch and worry”

.

“Kitty could see sincerity mingled with trepidation in his gaze and she knew for certain that he did indeed see her as his equal, however much he might struggle with the need to look after her”

Cover image of the book 'Murder At The Wedding' by author Helena Dixon

REVIEW

“’Till death do us part may come sooner than they thought…”

This is one of two ‘Golden Age’ mystery series I am totally invested in right now and they are both set apart by their strong and feisty female lead characters, who are streets ahead of their times in the female independence and equality stakes and who don’t hold on too strongly to all the traditions and accepted social mores of the times.

Kitty Underhay, does have something of a personal history, which has cameoed in all her investigations to date, as she crosses paths time and again with her nemesis, usually when he is trying to bump her off, which annoyingly for him he hasn’t managed to achieve so far, although once or twice it has been a close call! However, any past events were woven so  seamlessly into the current storyline where appropriate, that I never felt as though I was missing out, neither did I ever get to point where explanations in any way threatened to overwhelm the present investigation, making the individual books eminently readable as stand alone stories, although I guarantee you will definitely become addicted to Kitty Underhay and will soon have the entire series all lined up to read!

The action in previous episodes of the series, has hitherto taken place in Kitty and Matt’s home county of Devon, where, whilst they don’t altogether agree with the interfering ways of amateur sleuth, Kitty, during an investigation, Inspectors Pinch and Greville have built up a certain grudging respect for her astute ways, sharp mind and often acerbic tongue. It also helps Kitty’s case that she is in a relationship with widower and registered Private Investigator, Matt, who often finds himself acting as a buffer between Kitty and the law! However we now find Kitty and Matt totally out of their comfort zone in rural Yorkshire, attending the wedding of Kitty’s cousin, so when the almost inevitable happens and a double murder threatens to spoil the future of the happy couple, Kitty and Matt find themselves at loggerheads with the dour and rather uninspiring, Inspector Lewis, who wants nothing more than the most speedy solution to the case possible.

The chapters are kept to a length where the travel of the story is both fluid and evenly paced, so whilst wonderfully descriptive narrative and dialogue are among the most endearing features about this series, with the author’s skilled imagery adding real depth and range, there is never a wasted word or gesture, making this multi-layered, well structured, traditional mystery storyline from the 1930s, highly textured, rich in atmosphere and totally immersive from the word go. Some skilled and assured plot building throws up more than enough twists and turns, as Kitty and Matt try to get to the bottom of what transpires to be a potentially treasonous scandal of epic proportions, with reverberations and consequences which have the power to topple governments and change the face of British politics. Whilst I did manage to narrow down my own suspect list to somewhere near the right mix of characters, I certainly didn’t unravel all the whys and wherefores of this nefarious and duplicitous little gang; which, even had I succeeded would have all been in vain anyway, when the ‘official’ version of events was so manipulated as to distract attention from the grubby truth – Some things never change, even after almost a hundred years of ‘progress’!

A cast of well developed, multi-faceted characters, collectively added a strong voice and a realistic sense of time and place to the storyline, and although not all were likable, or reliable witnesses by any stretch of imagination, they all remained authentic and true to their roles throughout. There may have appeared to be quite a profusion of characters populating this drama, however, true to any worthy ‘Agatha Christiesque’ plot, once they were all safely gathered in one place, the pieces of the jigsaw began to slot neatly into place for Kitty and Matt, as the closely woven threads of this tissue of lies began to unravel.

Kitty and her maid come companion, Alice, together with Matt, make a formidably addictive and ever evolving team, who are relatable and easy to connect with. The synergy and dynamics between them works really well, making them genuine and believable. I read for all the escapism, enjoyment, entertainment and emotion a good storyline and engaging cast of characters can offer and this little trio tick all those boxes for me.

This time Kitty finds herself trapped in one of her most perilous situations yet and although Matt has plucked up the courage to make all the correct representations to the appropriate people, he is left wondering if a future with such a free-spirited and controversially independent forward-thinking woman, who expects and demands equality in a relationship, is really one he can handle. I am so pleased I was able to be a ‘fly on the wall’ when Matt reached his final decision, but what was Kitty’s response?

Might it be the last we shall see of the dastardly Hammett and his sister, Esther and will Kitty be able to wrest the truth about her mother’s fate from him, to help her set her mind at rest and find peace with the past, as she  embarks upon a new chapter in her life? I’m still not sure I would bet on it!

Image of author Helena Dixon

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!

 

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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12 comments
  • Murder at the wedding, and it’s not just one, but two murders…this is just cruel and a nightmare. I bet at the end it’s Kitty, not the detective, who found out all the secrets and real murderer.

    • Oh Yes! Kitty and Matt worked out who the killer was and laid the trap to catch them.

      As they are staying away from home, the detective working the case doesn’t know about Kitty’s reputation as an amateur sleuth and to be honest he is a complete waste of space and just wants to convict someone, even if it is the wrong person, in order to close the case!

      Thanks for visiting and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

  • This book would have been perfect for me earlier this year, when I was studying the period and politics are involved in the mystery too. It seems like a very interesting read, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it.

    • At first Kitty Underhay was appalled that such a ‘cover-up’ of events was going on, however it transpired that if she was able to ignore that transgression, the subterfuge was also beneficial to her friends and relatives, so ‘the least said, the soonest mended’ was the best course of action.

      Although I am totally addicted to Kitty and her amateur sleuthing techniques, I can step away from the series for one episode, then re-join, without ever really feeling I had missed anything. For me, that’s the sign of a well organised author, who has crafted some memorable characters and who leaves nothing to chance in her storytelling.

      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. I hope that all is well with you 🙂

      • Thank you, yes, everything is ok. My husband joined me in London this week, so we are busy going around London each evening, which is amazing. xx

        • Aw! It’s good that he could join you and the weather has been so good for sight-seeing too, although it’s a bit chilly in the evenings!

          Have a fun week 🙂

  • This sounds like a fun series and I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Looking up the author at Fantastic Fiction, it appears she’s been quite prolific over the past two years! She’s set quite a pace for herself!

    • I actually came into this series quite late in the day, with book #5. However the backstory is such that it was quite easy to catch up with events. Now the books make perfect sense as stand alone stories.

      I do get the idea though, that the publisher sets quite stringent deadlines for the frequency of publishing new titles, so I’m sure that Helena has her work cut out keeping up with the schedule. Book #8 is due out in February 2022!

      I have three really good cozy mystery series I am following now, all featuring great female amateur sleuths and it is very easy to get them muddled in my mind, as all three authors are very prolific!

      Thanks for visiting and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

  • So this one’s set in and around Exeter? That whole ‘between the wars’ period is an excellent period to set books in as not only was there rapid change for women but I think they knew another war was coming. It must’ve been very unsettling. What’s the other Golden Age mystery series you’re reading at the moment, Yvonne?

    • This particular ‘Kitty Underhay’ story is set in Yorkshire, as she is up there for a wedding. Her usual base though, is The Dolphin Hotel, which is owned by her grandmother and is in the Dartmouth area.

      The three (make that four) series which keep me busy and often confused, as many of the new books are published at the same time, are:

      The Kitty Underhay Mysteries by Helena Dixon – Cozy Golden Age

      The Lady Eleanor Swift Mysteries by Verity Bright – Cozy Golden Age

      The Kate Palmer Mysteries by Dee MacDonald – Cozy Contemporary

      The Eve Mallow Mysteries by Clare Chase – Cozy Contemporary

      I must admit that I am still not a confirmed series reader and I tend to dip in and out, although that has as much to do with the amount of books I have already scheduled for review, as these authors are all published by Bookouture, so I could get on the Blog Tours for all of them if I only had the time!!

      Thanks for stopping by, I hope that I have given you a few new ideas for future reading 🙂

      • Thanks for the list, Yvonne. I shall be investigating. Not that you really need recs but a cozy mystery series I’m enjoying is the Lady Hardcastle books by T.E. Kinsey. A Lady and her maid solving crimes, great fun.

        • OMG! The Lady Hardcastle series sounds amazing, I’ve already added it to my ‘wish list’, although when I am going to get time to catch up to date, is anyone’s guess!

          I can never have too many recommendations, I just need the time to go with them 🙂

Written by Yvonne

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