Thanks this time are due to the lovely Noelle, representing publisher Bookouture, for including me in this Blog Tour.
Also the great team at NetGalley for always providing those seamless review copy downloads.
MYSTERY AT THE OLD MILL (Eve Mallow #4)
Everyone in Saxford St Peter is desperate to know more about Harry Tennant, the newcomer who owns the Old Mill. He usually keeps himself to himself, but he’s finally invited the villagers round for drinks, and Eve Mallow isn’t the only one looking forward to having some questions answered.
But two days before the party, a terrible fire sweeps through the mill, and Harry is found dead. When Eve passes the burned remains of his beautiful house, she can’t resist the call to investigate. Especially when it turns out quiet, charming Harry was living a double life as the famous advice writer Pippa Longford. Eve has to wonder what revelations were contained in the letters he received… and whether one of them was worth killing for.
Accompanied by her reliable dachshund sidekick Gus, Eve starts digging. She soon realises Harry was at the centre of a web of lives – and lies. There’s an uncle desperate to inherit, two women who thought they were his one and only, not to mention everyone who shared their darkest secrets with him. Was one of those strangers much closer to home than Harry knew? And can Eve untangle the truth before she finds herself face to face with a killer?
Clare Chase writes classic mysteries set in her home city of Cambridge and is fascinated by the location’s contrasts and contradictions. Her aim is to take readers away from it all via some armchair sleuthing in atmospheric locations.
Like her heroines, Clare is fascinated by people and what makes them tick. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked in settings as diverse as Littlehey Prison and the University of Cambridge, in her home city. She’s lived everywhere, from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat and finds the mid-terrace she currently occupies a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.
Keep up with all Clare’s latest news at her website
Follow Clare on Twitter
Check in with Clare on Facebook
PROLOGUE – THURSDAY 2nd JANUARY
“The Old Mill stood on the raised bank that bordered the River Sax, on the opposite side to the village of Saxford St Peter. The large building looked threatening against the night sky. It had been converted into an upmarket residence years earlier, but its huge sails remained.
It was 2.30 a.m., and there was no visible moon. Thick dark cloud cloaked the sky and snow was forecast. It was the perfect night for murder. Any footprints would soon be hidden by a white blanket”
CHAPTER ONE – ELEVEN DAYS EARLIER
“It was midwinter, and Eve Mallow’s home, Elizabeth’s Cottage, was full of villagers. The wooden-beamed living room where she stood smelled of heady mulled-wine spices, woodsmoke from the roaring fire and someone’s expensive scent. Eve packed in the hordes twice a year, when she opened her home to the residents of Saxford St Peter and its outlying hamlets”
MEMORABLE MOMENTS FROM THE BOOK
“As an obituary writer writer, she interviewed the living to understand the dead and was fascinated by what made people tick”
“Tori Abbott shook her head. ‘Forgive him. I thought I’d married a human being, but it turns out he’s more a machine. That’s surgeons for you. They’re not much use if they allow emotions to get the better of them”
“He’d fought bullying by becoming a bully. Learned from his opponents’ tactics and taken them further, using his skill and intelligence”
“She interviewed the living to understand the dead”
‘Cozy’ mystery, or traditional murder / mystery, or perhaps a mixture of both! No matter how you choose to define this story, there is only one superlative to describe it – Amazing!
This is professional obituary writer and amateur sleuth, Eve Mallow’s, fourth case to solve and she has obviously arrived in Saxford St Peter with a certain amount of personal baggage she is hoping to offload, but which still comes back to haunt her every so often. Even so, this book works fine as a stand alone story, as the details of Eve’s past are revealed slowly on a need to know basis and the picture never feels anything but complete and up to date.
A great opening which drew me right in; a plot which just threw up one surprise after the other; and a rather satisfying ending that left me feeling full of hope, promise, and a job well done!
This multi-layered, suspenseful storyline moved along at a steady pace, with natural peaks and troughs in all the right places, enough to keep the atmosphere tense and me glued to the edge of my seat, wanting to turn the pages ever faster, as the bodies began to mount up and Eve’s suspect list grew in length. This fiendishly twisted plot was well constructed by an author consummate in the art of storytelling and skilled in the imagery of words. Great observational and descriptive dialogue lifted the characters from the page, making them three dimensional as they inspired my imagination, but unfortunately not my powers of deduction, as I failed dismally to spot the perpetrators until it was too late and they had already been unmasked.
The red herrings were spread liberally and seamlessly around the crime scene, and with so many people in this sleepy little village having secrets and personal hidden agendas, suspicion was liable to fall in any direction, sometimes being deflected to all the wrong places, as suspects sought to cover their tracks and draw attention away from themselves and onto others. The crisp narrative and dialogue was fluid, with plenty of gossip, a good deal of heart-searching and a liberal splattering of lighter-hearted moments amongst Eve’s effortlessly conversational questioning style, but nonetheless very concerted and focused investigations.
Author Clare Chase, expertly guides her amateur sleuth through this veritable minefield of lies and deceit, providing her a few close encounters of the scary kind – but is she deterred? – not on your life! Only as the investigation builds to jaw dropping, heart stopping climax, do events rather slew out of control, as we see Eve’s shields really down, exposing her vulnerability and inexperience.
True to the traditions of a well developed cozy mystery, the characters are every bit as important as the plot and the crime, and Clare has researched her small village community structure very thoroughly, before committing pen to paper and beginning to define and flesh out her sprawling cast of characters, in rich detail. This makes them very easy to connect with and become invested in, although there are one or two I probably wouldn’t want living too close me, and a couple of gossips I would try to avoid being alone with. There is some excellent character interaction and some quite strong emotional and family connections for Eve to unravel during the course of her investigations and of course, there are those who are not quite as innocent or nice as they would have me believe, but did I mange to spot them? – not on your life!
Eve is a middle-aged, ex-wife, and loving mother, who would stand up well alongside Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, or any of her more modern day counterparts, of which there are many. She has just the right amount of nosy neighbour tendencies, with the ability to sniff out a juicy murder/mystery, good powers of deduction in first building then whittling down a suspect list, and yet can stand up to serious scrutiny in her own right as a stalwart and trusted member of the community. She seems like a good and loyal friend to have and I look forward to following her new and blossoming friendship with the new man in her life!
Oh! And talking of sniffing out a suspect or two, I can’t end this review without mentioning Eve’s canine side-kick, Gus. What he lacks in physical size, he certainly makes up for in stature and wisdom, after all Eve does spend much of her time talking to him like an investigative partner and he is always a ‘go-to prop’ when she needs an excuse to visit a crime scene or chat to a suspect. To be honest, Eve might well have been toast in this particular investigation, if Gus hadn’t been the one to raise the alarm and set the wheels in motion for a rescue!
A Kindle download of this book for review and promotional purposes, was kindly gifted to me by the publisher, with the download being facilitated 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 4 out of 5 stars!