Challenge 47 ~ “A book that came out the year you were born.”
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
There are some mystery books that have a poor layout – they’ll make it too obvious who the culprit is, or they’ll make it so confusing you have no hope of figuring everything out – but others manage to get it spot on. The Winter Garden Mystery thankfully ranks among the latter, even if it is your stereotypical English countryside mystery story.
From the outset, Dunn brings back previous characters, complementing them with a host of new ones, which are all seemingly realistic, complex and well-developed. The reader is soon thrown into suspense amid a beautifully-described setting that, whilst hosting many different dimensions – the house, the forge and the inn – is immediately familiar and homely. The suspects gradually narrow as the novel progresses, through some comedic and action-filled discoveries, until there are only a few options left!
The penultimate chapters of the novel are easily among the most action-filled, but this does not make it feel rushed in the slightest. Dunn maintains the standard dynamics of the novel, concluding in a strong and sensible fashion (with a suspect that wasn’t the most obvious choice!)
Twentieth century mysteries set in the English countryside are not uncommon – this year alone I have already delved into Christie’s and Steven’s work. Nevertheless, Dunn’s addition is incredibly well written, and has its own tales to offer within the genre. The Winter Garden shows clear development (and improvement) from its prequel (Death at Wentwater Court), and simultaneously acts as a stand-alone novel. If the series continues on this path, it’s certainly going to go far!
Recommended for fans of:
- The Murder Most Unladylike Series by Robin Stevens
- The Miss Marple Series by Agatha Christie
- The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant