Death of an English Muffin
Merry Muffin Mystery #3
By Victoria Hamilton
Author’s website: www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
They say one’s home is one’s castle, but when it comes to Wynter Castle, Merry would like it to belong to someone else. But until a buyer bites, she could use some extra dough, so she decides to take in renters. The idea pans out, and Merry’s able to find a handful of tenants eager to live in a real castle. The only problem is most of them are crumby, tea-swilling old biddies.
The Legion of Horrible Ladies, as Merry calls them, is led by the terribly nasty—and fabulously wealthy—Cleta Sanson. The abrasive Englishwoman keeps everyone whipped into a frenzy—until she meets an embarrassing end behind a locked door. Evidence reveals that Cleta was murdered, yet no one is privy to how the deed was done. Merry knows she must quickly find the killer before another of her guests gets greased…
Victoria Hamilton proves herself again as an amazingly master plotter and author of cozy mysteries with Death of an English Muffin. From the variety of characters, descriptions of anything from the tea settings to the huge property or castle rooms, the humor, and the thoroughly plotted mystery, this is one of her best tales to date. The third cozy in the Merry Muffin Mystery series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone novel due to the skillful blending of the recent past as it fits into the present story.
Merry Wynter is a delightful protagonist; she is a middle-aged widow whose career as a stylist in the Big Apple was put on hold when she inherited a castle in upstate New York from her late father’s uncle. Merry knew little about her father’s family. After her father’s death, her mother kept her insulated from the eccentric, albeit happy, Wynters. Some of that history is brought to light in this story as some of the documents of years past are found. What will all of that mean to Merry?
Merry has enjoyed starting a successful bakery in the commercially-appointed kitchen of the castle. She is also slowly renovating the castle to bring it into this century, and has now taken in a few short-term borders. Four of those borders were not planned, but are determined to stay throughout the summer with Lush, the sweet, likable aunt of her best friend, Pish, who is an author seeking a peaceful place to write. The unplanned borders are close, long-term friends of Lush; Merry refers to the ladies (who think they are so proper) as The Legion of Horrible Ladies. At times they are too funny, or too horrible, to be true. The income from their rooms will definitely help the renovations, so Merry and her short-term ‘staff’ will tolerate the Horrible Ladies for a few months.
Merry’s ‘cards and tea afternoon’ for seniors from a local retirement home was underway when Cleta, the incredibly wealthy and most horribly nasty of the Legion ladies left the gathering for a bit. And was found undeniably dead, thought to have passed from a heart event.
It was determined that Cleta did not die of natural causes. Lauda, Cleta’s only living relative and the heir to her fortune, was staying in what had been Cleta’s room. The more that Merry, her friends and staff, and the handsome sheriff, Virgil, looked into each lady’s background, the more it was discovered that Lauda and the other three Ladies had cause to silence the old bully.
Death of an English Muffin has been a fun read, especially since the author successfully has stumped this reader again. Her characters are complex and most are likable. The author challenges the reader when allowing the murdered person to also be the least liked – how do we feel when someone meets their demise, even if we don’t like them? Does the death merit as much of an investigation? I especially like Merry and Hannah, even though they have somewhat different personalities. The author has included several types of personalities, demonstrating her versatility in portraying human nature that leaves the reader in turn laughing, shaking their head, or thinking about similar people in their own lives Ms. Hamilton’s use of humor is especially evident when describing the ‘stars’ of a short version of an opera as well as the rehearsals and performance.
The plot had enough twists and curves to keep me challenged and entertained, and thinking about the book in between reading times to think through who might have really done it. The clues were laid out so tantalizingly! A most satisfying denouement showed resolution to three concerns, each one important. Merry and Virgil pulled off a perfect play when they teased the murderer into thinking they were outsmarted…then figuratively pulled the covers off the killer. Two other resolutions were very personal for Merry, so I will let you read it to find them out. Nor will I divulge what the new muffin recipe is, but it looks SO good; I want to try it…and I am definitely awaiting the next book in the Merry Muffin Mystery Series!
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*