Book #8 in the Melissa Craig Series
Published by Bookouture (11th February 2019 originally published 16th July 1998)
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bookouture, and the author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Actual rating of 3.5
Book number 8 in the Melissa Craig series sees Melissa trying to navigate personal relationships, deal with the fact that her good friend and eccentric neighbour, Iris, is moving to France with her soon to be husband, and get her manuscript finished in what may very well be the last book in her long running series, while attempting to decide which idea she should follow next. On top of all this, a young woman’s body has been found discarded, naked, in an old, broken freezer that the Major and his wife discarded for hard rubbish collection. The young lady appears to be part of the Gipsy camp staying in the area, and the Romany have their own way of meting out punishment to those responsible. Melissa finds herself embroiled in the case along with her reporter friend, and what they will discover will be surprising, to say the least…
I had requested book 1 and 2 of this series in the earlier days of my Netgalley membership. I enjoyed the cosy mysteries so much so, that when I discovered other installments in the series available, I went on a spree and requested books 8 through 11. I do enjoy a cosy mystery, but I was beginning to think, what more could be offered in the series, so I put of reading the ones I requested. I ended up biting the bullet and attempting to whittle them down (along with my stupidly long Netgalley eARC list), and I wasn’t disappointed in this one (I didn’t think I would be to be honest). I’ve come to quite enjoy the characters that Rowlands has created in this series and I’ll admit, I’m eager to see what happens to them next.
As per usual, Melissa finds herself in the middle of an investigation because she just can’t help herself, however, I found this one to be a little bit darker and a bit more dangerous than the previous two that I’ve read (yes, I’ll admit, I’ve missed five books in the series). This installment deals with domestic violence, bigotry, and deals with the relationships in the book a lot deeper than I was expecting. So you have the normal cosy mystery happening, with a darker tinge to it, but a lot of the book is also dealing with Melissa and her beau, Ken’s relationship and the fact that he wishes to marry her. The tenuous relationship that she had with her father is touched upon, which I thought was great because all we knew about her was that her parents essentially kicked her out when she was pregnant with her son, Simon, and her love died, leaving his parents as the ones to care for her and the child (which they were happy to do). So it was nice to get a bit of a backstory to Melissa’s parents. There’s also the fact that Iris is to be wed soon, and is moving with her fiancee to France, which I feel like Melissa is not ready for, to be honest, I know I’m not. I quite enjoy the character of Iris, so I’m a little worried that this will mean she becomes less and less involved in the stories.
Ken is an overbearing character, and he annoyed me from the beginning of this book. I can remember his character from the previous books I’ve read, but I didn’t see their relationship grow because, as mentioned above, I skipped five books, but honestly, I don’t know how Melissa has put up with him for so long (however long that is, it might not be very long at all). He is overbearing, arrogant and thinks that he has the right to order Melissa around and tell her what to do. Now, I’ve always seen Melissa as a strong character who doesn’t take any crap from anyone, so I was really surprised to see her bowing down to some of Ken’s temper tantrums. It just didn’t seem like the character that I’ve come to know and enjoy. As always the Fords annoy me, they’re gossipers and are so worried about appearances and social standing, which I’ve never understood. I came to enjoy the character of Mel’s reporter friend (who’s name I just cannot remember for the life of me) I think his name is Bruce? He seems less stuck up and annoying in this installment, and it seems like they’ve become good friends.
The mystery was well thought out and executed. I had an inkling early on on WHO dunnit, and sort of why, but not the whole story. So when the reveal happened at the end, it wasn’t a total surprise for me, but the why and how was explained well so it all made sense and was tied up nice and neat in a little bow. I’m interested to see how the dynamic of the village changes after this book to be honest. I feel like Rowlands did a good job of painting the picture of the Romany Gipsies and I feel like it was done tastefully, though because I’m not one, I can’t honestly say for sure how well it was done.
There’s not a whole lot to say on this book as it’s number 8 in the series. But if you like a good little cosy mystery set in England, maybe give the series a go. Be mindful, this series was originally written in the 90s, so answering machines and the like were the way of communication hahahaha, this was actually the first book where I saw a mobile phone mentioned.