Posts Tagged ‘Hazel Holt’

Death is a Word (Mrs. Malory Mysteries series Book 21)

Sheila Malory is once again on the trail of a possible criminal.  An old friend – Eva – returns to Taviscombe following the death of her husband, Alan, who was a globe trotting war correspondent.

Eva soon becomes involved in charity work thanks to her distant cousin, Rosemary who is also Sheila’s best friend.  Then Eva herself is found dead in somewhat mysterious circumstances and Sheila starts to wonder what is going on especially as someone tried to set fire to Eva’s garage where her later husband’s papers are stored.

This novel is relatively slow paced and the solution is equally low key but it is still an entertaining read. It highlights some potential dangers of digging into the past -whether one’s own or that of others. Unfortunately it is the last in the Sheila Malory series.  The books in the series can be read in any order though this is perhaps best left until last.

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A Necessary End (Sheila Malory Mystery)

Sheila Malory allows herself to be persuaded to stand in for a friend for a few weeks at a local charity shop. Here she meets the unpleasant Desmond Barlow and his downtrodden wife, Wendy. Desmond, among his many community activities manages the charity shop and is forever criticising everyone else. His wife and son are completely dominated by him and everyone else is either slightly scared of him or permanently angry at him. When Desmond is found dead in the shop one morning there are plenty of suspects.

Sheila is puzzled by the reactions of several of her co-workers to the death and finds herself acting as unofficial helper to the Inspector investigating the case. Many people have means, motive and opportunity not least the victim’s own family and there are times when many people involved think the murderer did the community a service by eliminating Desmond.

I enjoy Hazel Holt’s low key writing and the interesting characters she creates for her cosy mysteries. Sheila herself is well drawn and she doesn’t always behave how she should or how she is expected to behave. She has an advantage in that people will talk to her where they might not talk to the police. I particularly like the two animals in the story – the dog Triss who is always in the wars and the Siamese cat with attitude called Foss. If you like your crime stories without graphic violence then give this series a try. They can be read in any order.

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Any Man's Death (Mrs. Malory Mysteries series Book 19)

Annie Roberts is a bully though no one seems willing to stand up against her including Sheila Malory.  As a result Sheila dins herself persuaded to compile a history of the village in which Annie has lived all her life.  Then Annie dies unexpectedly and Sheila wonders if the death was quite as much of an accident as it appears.  After all, Annie prided herself on her ability to identify edible fungi.

The problem nags at Sheila all the time she is collecting old photographs and reminiscences from the villagers and she gradually starts to wonder what sort of a hold Annie had over her fellow villagers – especially as everyone seems much more relaxed since her death.

This is an enjoyable mystery which shows how people can exercise power over others and how dangerous that power can be – not only to its victims but to the person who exercises the power as well.  Sheila as ever is an interesting character who manages to acquire snippets of information in order to put together the whole picture.  This is the nineteenth book in the series though the books can be read in any order.

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A Time to Die (Mrs. Malory Mysteries series Book 18)

Charlie and Jo Hamilton run the local riding stables and are well liked by everyone in the area. They are also friends with Sheila Malory and she starts to see more of them when her young grand daughter, Alice starts riding lessons.  When Charlie dies in what appears to be suspicious circumstances, Sheila’s well known curiosity is aroused and it positively burns to be satisfied when another death happens hard on the first.

This is a well written cosy mystery – number eighteen in the series.  I enjoyed reading it again having first read it some years ago.  Sheila has to do her detecting in between ordinary every day life, taking part in fund raising activities, looking after her grand daughter and trying not to quarrel with her friend Rosemary’s obnoxious mother.

If you enjoy cosy mysteries then you may enjoy this book and this series. They are entertaining light reads when you don’t want anything too taxing to read.  I like Sheila Malory with her literary activities and her wide cycle of friends.  The books can be read in any order.

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A Death in the Family (Mrs. Malory Mysteries series Book 17)

Sheila Malory receives a warning that boring cousin Bernard is doing the rounds of the family and wants to come and see her.  He is researching the family tree in incredible depth and annoying and boring everyone by turns.  Sheila finds she is quite sorry for his downtrodden wife, Janet, and when Bernard is found dead in suspicious circumstances her curiosity is aroused.

Could Bernard have discovered something in his researches which others might have wanted kept hidden?  When Janet hands Sheila all her late husband’s research she starts to go through it to try and discover what might have led to someone wanting Bernard dead.

I found this an interesting and gentle read though it does show how potentially dangerous family history research can be.  I like Sheila as a character as she isn’t perfect and doesn’t do everything right all the time.  I also like the background of everyday life where characters still have to do everyday chores and keep the rest of their lives of running as well as solving mysteries.

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No Cure for Death (Mrs. Malory Mysteries series Book 16)

A new member of the Taviscombe GP practice seems not to be terribly popular.  He is quite aloof and doesn’t seem to have the same friendly bedside manner as the other doctors.  He seems to be affected the usual relaxed atmosphere and even the patients have noticed.  When he is murdered during morning surgery while Sheila Malory is sitting in the waiting room she is naturally curious about who might have done it.

As Sheila goes about her normal life she accumulates a lot of information about the victim but she still doesn’t feel she has got to the bottom of the mystery and the police seem equally baffled by the murder.  Then a friend of the dead man is also found dead a potential scandal is revealed.

I thought this book was well written and I didn’t work out who had committed the murder until it was about to be revealed.  I like mysteries which are set firmly in real every day life, where people worry about getting the washing done and putting food on the table at the same time as investigating a murder.  It’s a pity that several books which precede this one in the series are not yet available as ebooks.

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Death of a Dean (Mrs. Malory Mysteries series Book 7)

Sheila Malory is visiting her old friend David Beaumont when she finds out he may have to sell his lovely house in Stratford on Avon because of financial difficulties.  These difficulties could be solved if David’s brother, Francis – the Dean of Culminster – was willing to sell the big house that they jointly own.  Unfortunately Francis is unwilling to sell.

David comes to stay with Sheila to try and persuade Francis to change his mind as Culminster isn’t far from where Sheila lives in Taviscombe.  The book paints a picture of a very dominant and unpleasant man.  Francis controls his two adult children, Adrian and Mary and his downtrodden wife Joan.  Hardly anyone is upset when Francis is found dead in suspicious circumstances.

I almost didn’t want the murderer found as I felt so sorry for all the obvious suspects.  The solution is actually a surprise when it comes and I definitely didn’t spot what was going on.  I like Sheila Malory as a character and the low key mysteries in this series make a change from tense psychological thrillers.

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