Murder by the Book by Debbie Young

When I think of cosy/village mysteries I think of the ‘lighter’ Miss Marples, or an episode of Bergerac or Death in Paradise. What all of these mysteries have in common is that all feature a murder (and often several of them). None of them are dark, psychological thrillers, but all of them have death at the heart of them. Even Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Whimsy books have murders attached, and Sophie Sayers, the heroine of Debbie Young’s Sophie Sayers Village Mysteriesis named after those books.

Debbie Young admits herself that she is a reluctant murder (something that her husband and daughter must feel reassured to know!!), and this book, like the previous books in the series are light on murder. Even so, the way that she works plot with the threat of murder shows us that she is a master of story plotting and of weaving intrigue. Murder looks to be around the corner throughout and so you do find yourself approaching the, short, chapters nervous that someone is going to wind up dead by the end of it.

Like it’s predecessors, Murder by the the Book, is more a story of rural village life in the Cotswolds with all of the characters and traditions you would expect to find. This book is all of that, and I think even more of an autobiography of Debbie’s. Set more in Hector’s House bookshop than any of the others, this is the book that deals – alongside the murder and the intrigue – of publishing, bookselling, Indie Author careers, and even, towards the end a wonderfully self-referential plug for the town on which Wendelebury Barrow based, and Debbie Young’s very much real, Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival.

I won’t say if there is a murder in this book, but suffice it to say that it is a story that keeps you guessing right up until the bitter end.