A new case involving a teenager in possession of an unexplained Glock pistol promises to change all that. Quickly Cathy’s deep in waters over her head, forced with hilarious results to pose as a mathematics tutor, a subject of which she’s truly clueless. There’s also the tricky situation of best friend and new mother Rosa hiring her to investigate her fiancé, Alec, plus the mysterious sabotage of Cathy’s friends’ cycle shop and a gang of yobbos dealing drugs at her children’s primary school.
Worst of all, an ill-fated trip to rural Norfolk has Cathy’s husband, Declan, intent on buying a post office and transplanting the family to safer climes, threatening to tear Cathy permanently from her beloved North London home.
Pretty soon Cathy’s risking her friendships, her marriage and even her life untangling all these messes. But that’s what you get for meddling in murder…
When you've read as many cozies as I have, out-of-the-ordinary is a good thing. There are several out of the ordinary things about Meddling With Murder, the new cozy mystery from Ellie Campbell (aka Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell). First, it is written by a two-person writing team, which is by no means unique, but it is still in a minority - at least in my experience. Next, it's set in England. Most of the cozy writers I have read set their stories in the US, and for an Anglophile like myself, I'm so happy to see more of our sisters from across the pond get in on the cozy action!
Cathy is like a lot of working mothers these days, turning to self-employment to earn a living. There are several challenges for her there. One, her husband has left his 'rat race' job to be a stay-at-home father and homesteader (they have chickens) - so there's a lack of stability for the family. And Cathy's former cleaning lady turned business partner has gone swanning off on a cruise, leaving Cathy, who has one of the softest hearts in England, to try and collect professional fees.
Seems there's been a rash of bike thefts in their neck of the woods and Cathy & Co. help a 10 year old boy locate his ride. Cathy's been putting up 'have you seen this bike' posters in the neighborhood, when the boy comes to her house and says she doesn't need to look for the bike anymore, yet will not admit that the bike has been found. Cathy draws out of him that he's heard the local street gang took his bike and he is worried that he, his family, or even Cathy will be harmed if she keeps making inquiries.
Seriously, does it make this gang feel powerful to steal bikes from children or to peddle their drugs at the local elementary school? You don't mess with kids. They even go so far as to give the kids cash or drugs in exchange for bikes, no questions asked. *thwap upside the head* You. Don't. Mess. With. Kids.
Aside from these problems, Cathy and Declan are also having trouble. He wants to take his back-to-nature plan one step farther and move away from the city. When Declan offers Cathy a weekend away, she thinks its just a getaway from the routine. When they get there, surprise! They're staying with some old friends of Declan's and looking at properties in the rural area. Furthermore, Declan already wants to make an offer on a post office/convenience store and the friends know about this before Cathy as well.
So let's recap. A big move. A big purchase. No prior notification of or consultation with the wife? Not the best of ideas! I would probably be, oh, furious!
The pacing and tempo of Meddling with Murder simmered along happily until towards the end, where the tension mounted steadily and with great excitement.
I had a wee bit of trouble with some of the English slang, but then I watched a couple of Brit-coms and things went much smoother. I read a book last year (?) where the Aussie author included a mini-translation of some local slang that was very helpful. Maybe some of the more obscure terms in Meddling could benefit from such a strategy?
Aside from that, this "Crouch End Confidential Mystery" was thoroughly enjoyable and I look forward to further adventures with Cathy & Co.
MEET THE AUTHOR
By the time each had 70 short stories published internationally, Pam was settled in Surrey, England, and Lorraine had finally taken root in Boulder, Colorado. Long telephone chats about life and fiction led to their current collaboration. They have produced five acclaimed novels – How To Survive Your Sisters, When Good Friends Go Bad, Looking For La La, To Catch A Creeper and Million Dollar Question. They write contemporary women’s fiction laced with humour, romance, and mystery.
When not hunched over computers, Lorraine, a certified ROTH ‘horse whisperer’, can usually be found messing about with her four rescue horses and Pam on a fund raising bike ride, madly cycling over mountains to Paris, Barcelona or Gibraltar on the back of her husband’s bone-shaking tandem.
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(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the authors and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest review. Post contains affiliate links.)