Isabel Puddles Abroad
A Mitten State Mystery #3
By M. V. Byrne
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Feisty senior sleuth Isabel Puddles–Lake Michigan’s answer to Miss Marple–strikes out for new territory across the pond in the newest cozy mystery by veteran TV writer M.V. Byrne. Full of charm, rich storytelling, and mellow humor, the Mitten State Mysteries are sure to delight fans of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon tales, Jessica Fletcher and Lee Hollis’s Poppy Harmon series.
Isabel has crafted a life she loves in her Lake Michigan hometown, but she’s eager to use her golden years to make up for missed opportunities. That’s why she’s traveling to England for the first time to visit her pen pal, Teddy Mansfield, an acclaimed mystery writer who lives just outside the village of Mousehole, Cornwall. First impressions are charming–Isabel is staying in the guest cottage on the grounds of Teddy’s beautiful country manor, and Mousehole is home to an assortment of characters as colorful as any in Teddy’s books.
Teddy’s housekeeper, Tuppence, is a dab hand at baking–her scones are regularly runner-up in the village bake-off, and this year she’s determined to scoop top prize. But it appears that other, possibly more dangerous rivalries have been brewing in Mousehole. And when a resident is found pushing up daisies in a flowerbed, Isabel is drawn into an investigation that will require all of her newly honed skills to solve–and to survive . . . (from Goodreads)
I enjoyed this cozy mystery from start to finish! What a delight it was to meet Isabel, her friends in Gull Harbor, and her new friends in Cornwall, England! The characters are engaging, and most are very likable. I enjoyed learning some British expressions, some of which are quite colorful, and how some of the mystery seemed to hinge on the perfect scone. Even the Inspector (chief of detectives) had some very lighthearted moments while in the middle of his first murder case. There are some very funny scenes, some sad, and others scary.
Isabel is a widow in her early golden years who is content with her life. She tried her hand as a private investigator and was very good at it but didn’t want to see that much of the darker side of human nature.
Isabel’s best friend, Frances, had introduced her to Teddy, a best-selling author of a detective series. He lives in England, and in summer, spends time in Michigan. They have been writing to each other for some time, and he invited her to visit him. There has been no mention of romance; they are simply very good friends. One of Isabel’s ancestors emigrated to Michigan, so she has long desired to see England.
Isabel saw the highlights of London before going to Cornwall and the quaint little village of Mousehole. Tuppence is Teddy’s housekeeper; he had suggested treading lightly around her as it is easy for people to get on her bad side. She is a little rough around the edges and quite unspoken with a heart of gold underneath. Tuppence is preparing for a special bake-off. She has lost the scone bakeoff five years in a row, coming in second place to Hyacinth, and she is determined to win this year. Isabel thought her scones were the best she ever had, winning Tuppence’s loyalty. This year, one of the judges would be a pastry chef from a popular baking show. The guest of honor will be none other than the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla herself!
Tuppence did not win. She didn’t even place. For some unknown reason, the scones didn’t rise and were more like hockey pucks. She decided she might not try to ever bake scones again. A couple of days later, Isabel took Teddy’s beloved Corgis out for a walk. They accidentally got away from her and she found them digging in a neighbor’s garden, where they found the remains of a well-known, but unpopular, member of the community. Even though she didn’t want to solve murders, especially in a foreign country, at least two of the suspects urgently need her help.
This reader enjoyed meeting Isabel’s friends in Michigan and Cornwall. All were defined well according to their roles. The author is excellent at showing the characters rather than merely describing them. Even though this is the first book I’ve read in the series, I felt as if I got to know those in her hometown easily, especially Isabel and her best friend, Frances. I found Tuppence to be quite charming in her eccentricities. I also enjoyed Inspector Carlyle, who wasn’t too proud to ask for help solving his first murder.
I enjoyed this novel so much that I plan to read the first two and am absolutely looking forward to the next one! While the cover initially appealed to me, then the Michigan hometown, I genuinely like the personalities and the writing style. There were two people I suspected as the tale progressed, one more strongly than the other, and I was partially correct. Plot twists and turns kept me guessing, especially when first one person, then another, both very close to Teddy, looked good for the murder. I was very satisfied with the resolution, and all loose ends were tied up. I highly recommend this delightful cozy!