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It's Complicated

Overdue Book Review

A Manor of Life and Death

By Kim M. Watt

This third installment of the Beaufort Scales mystery series finds author Kim M. Watt dropping her charming recurring characters into a traditional English country house mystery. Ms. Watt ticks all the boxes in classic fashion here: a mysterious death which may or may not be murder; a writhing mass of suspects, motives, and juicy subplots; a devasting storm that cuts everyone off from the outside world; and the harried and harassed Detective Inspector, trying desperate to maintain order and her own sanity throughout it all as she strives to solve the mystery.

Of course, in Ms. Watt’s world, things are always…complicated. Especially for DI Adams.

They’re complicated by the ladies of the Toot Hansel Women’s Institute, who are, to put it nicely, inveterate meddlers, jumping in to “help” DI Adams investigate. Always with the best of intentions, of course—in this case, because the suspects include a large portion of Miriam’s family, who either own/work at the manor house in question, or…well, to tell more would venture into spoiler territory.

They’re complicated by the inclusion of the Cloverly dragons. Yes, Beaufort and Mortimer are on a spa weekend with the WI, doing “youghurt” on the terrace, and encountering all manner of friendly (and not so friendly) Folk of the supernatural realms. And doing what they (or at least Beaufort) do best—meddling.

They’re complicated by Thompson, the snarky cat who is actually a member of The Watch, the supernatural police who keep the Folk and humans separated. But who nevertheless allows himself to be drawn into the general meddling and mayhem brought on by the WI and the dragons. Because along with DI Adams, someone has to step up and take charge…

There are some reveals in this tale I’ve been waiting for—like DI Adams first name, and an interesting look at several new species of Folk with whom the dragons interact. But the story does not resolve one of my most burning questions (Alice’s husband, anyone?), and it raises another--what the heck is the Dandy all about? And how will he impact DI Adams life?. And will we ever get a spot of romance between DI’s Adams and Collins? I’m all agog here, and I certainly hope that Ms. Watt provides the answers (and recipes) I’m craving in book four. Please???

A Manor of Life and Death has a quirky cast, a delightful sense of the absurd, and some unexpectedly deep insights on the nature of tea, cakes, and friendship. fOh, yes, and there’s a mystery. And dragons! To sum it all up, if you like cake, chaos, and cozy mysteries, this is the book (and series) for you. Because above all else, A Manor of Life and Death is just purely terrific fun.

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