Murder on the Hour is a cozy mystery with amateur detective Penny Brannigan in the mix of another unsolved crime in her intimate town of Llanelen, located in Wales. This isn’t Penny’s first brush with crime or detective work, this is the seventh book in the series, but a new reader does not need to start at the beginning of the series to enjoy Penny or the story. The residents of the sleepy, close-knit town are thrilled when they discover that a traveling version of Antiques Cymru, like Antiques Roadshow, has chosen them for the next taping. All of the residents are quick to rush home as news spreads in order to choose their most prized possessions for evaluation on the show. No one in Llanelen could ever have thought that a taping of a television show could lead to murder in their quiet village.
Quiet and well-liked resident, Catrin Bellis, had recently laid her parents to rest and thus resumed a life she never really knew after being a caregiver to her ailing parents in a strict household. Catrin takes an heirloom family quilt to the show’s taping and learns that while admirable, the quilt is not worth much. However, the real mystery begins to unfold after Catrin arrives home to meet her murderer and the quilt and the secrets it contains, are stolen.
Penny Brannigan is a self-assured, successful spa owner who acts almost as an ad hoc mayor as well as detective. Well-liked by the townsfolk as well as the police department, Penny gets to work on trying to solve the murder of Catrin. The more digging and exploring that Penny does, the more secrets and lies come to the surface. The novel did have a bit of a slow start as the framework was being established and all of the townspeople being introduced, but after the murder, the book began to take off. Author Elizabeth Duncan has created a strong, interesting female lead in Penny and reading this book, or any other, will make the reader want to see what else Penny has gotten herself into or out of.
Murder on the Hour is an enjoyable, suspenseful light mystery that showcases small town life in Wales and highlights a lot of traditional values and experiences that today’s fast paced world often forgets. From the town busybodies, to how anything out of the ordinary, like the murder of a young woman, immediately causes suspicion, the home town values of Llanelen shine. Elizabeth Duncan creates excellent characters that come alive in an intimate setting and I will definitely be checking out another Penny Brannigan Mystery soon.
Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.wordpress.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Minotaur Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.