Murder is for keeps

Elizabeth J Duncan

Book - 2017

"Local artist and amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan has been spending her summer painting the exterior and views of the once-lovely Gwrych Castle, now in a heartbreaking state of disrepair. A privately owned castellated country house of jaw dropping scale, the gorgeous house located just outside of Penny's picturesque Welsh town has been sadly neglected for decades. Penny is thrilled when she hears local Mark Baker is leading a team of enthusiastic volunteers to restore the castle grounds and formal gardens to their former grandeur. But there are always disagreements about how everything should be done, and it's not long before they turn deadly. Penny is horrified to discover the body of an overbearing volunteer who had opposed ...Mark at every turn. Convinced that Mark is innocent, Penny enlists the help of keen gardener Gareth Davies, recently retired from the North Wales Police Service. She asks that he join the volunteer brigade, so Gareth dons a hi-vis jacket, picks up a spade and picks up a few clues, too. Asked to examine watercolor paintings of the estate gardens from the 1920s, Penny is surprised to find a few clues of her own. Could the 90-year-old paintings really hold the keys to a present-day murder? Murder is for Keeps is the latest book in this charming traditional mystery series from Elizabeth J. Duncan"--

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Mystery fiction
New York : Minotaur Books 2017.
Main Author
Elizabeth J Duncan (author)
First edition
Item Description
"A Thomas Dunne book."
Physical Description
viii, 259 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In Duncan's lackluster eighth mystery featuring spa owner and artist Penny Brannigan (after 2016's Murder on the Hour), Penny finds a body in the grounds of Gwrych Castle, near her home in North Wales. The dead man volunteered with a crew renovating the castle, and after his developmentally challenged son disappears, Penny pieces together a connection between their family, the renovation's site manager, and a 20-year-old theft. Meanwhile, a skeleton turns up in the castle garden, and Penny's friend Gareth Davies, recently retired from the police force, investigates. Duncan's reliance on dialogue to explicate plot points sometimes leads to stilted conversations and a facile treatment of the characters' emotions, such as when Gareth tells Penny about a new romance. Newcomers might be bewildered by the array of secondary characters, but longtime fans should enjoy cameos from many of Llanelan's quirky residents, whose participation in a pub quiz to raise money for the castle restoration provides a humorous interlude. Anglophiles will savor details about the castle's history and gardens. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary Agency. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Fascination with a ruined faux castle involves an artist in a case of murder in North Wales.Despite its pretensions, Gwrych Castle is not ancient. It's a Victorian castellated mansion, sadly in ruins. As part of the ongoing attempt to clean and re-create its formerly magnificent gardens, expatriate Canadian artist Penny Brannigan is doing a series of paintings to be auctioned off for the cause. After retired DCI Gareth Davies drops her off at the castle, Penny follows a fox and finds a body. She wastes no time in reporting her discovery to Gareth, a dear friend who'd prefer to be Penny's romantic interest. Although Gareth is very interested indeed, he carefully leaves the police work to his former assistant, DI Bethan Morgan, so as not to step on any toes. Penny, however, has no such constraints, and after the dead man is identified as retired landscape architect John Hardwick, his wife, Christina, familiar with Penny's reputation for crime solving (Murder On The Hour, 2016, etc.), asks her to investigate. Christina is convinced that John was murdered. The inability of the police to come up with a cause of death doesn't prevent her from suspecting his former wife, who lives nearby with their mentally challenged son, a volunteer at Gwrych. Penny and Gareth's fascination with what went on when the castle was in its prime keep them in the hunt until they find an unexpected clue courtesy of Gareth's late grandmother, who worked at Gwrych as a seamstress. Duncan's character-driven series delivers again. While the story telegraphs the killer's identity pretty clearly, the information on the real-life Welsh estate and gardens makes up for the simple mystery. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.