It all begins with a simple request from an old friend. Charles rings Sheila Malory from America to tell her he hasn’t heard from his fiancée, Lee, in several days. She was in Sheila’s village of Taviscombe making prepartions for their wedding. Would Sheila please made enquiries for him?
Oh, what a slippery slope! Who would have thought that a sleepy little English village could harbor so much intrigue? Well, any Miss Marple fan, for a start. But this is no mere Agatha Christie re-make. Holt is a master of storytelling in her own right. Her characters are thoroughly developed and complex, if not always likeable. The main character is instantly sympathetic, although her rationalizations for not sharing information with the police sometimes seem a bit contrived.
Gone Away doesn’t try too hard to be clever. It would not be a satisfying read for the inveterate puzzle-solver. But is excels at being exactly what it claims to be- a cozy little mystery to read by the fire with a cup of tea. Just the thing for fall reading!
I do- you knew it was coming- have a formatting complaint. The book’s synopsis, currently sandwiched between the copyright and the first chapter, should instead be located just after the cover image, as it would be on the dust-jacket of a hardcover. It may seem like a trivial complaint, but it is genuinely confusing to the reader to find a summary of the novel where they are expecting the first chapter to begin.
As for my own summary, I can certainly recommend this book to the casual mystery reader and to Anglophiles everywhere. I look forward to reading the rest of Holt’s Sheila Malory series, four of which are available from Coffeetown Press and the rest from Signet.
For now, it’s off to the library for an armful of Dorothy Sayers novels, since every author I’ve read lately seems determined to reference her. Happy reading!
Title: Gone Away
Author: Hazel Holt
Publication: 2010, Coffeetown Press
Price: eBook, $4.95; paperback, $15.14