Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Review: Isabel Puddles Abroad by M.V. Byrne

When I saw the cover of this cozy mystery, I knew it would be absolutely perfect for my Anglophile mother. And because we believe in "pre-enjoying" book gifts, I immediately cracked it open myself. It is a nice story with an interesting cast of characters on two sides of the Atlantic. It is the third book in the Mitten State Mystery series, and it might be best to have the background from the first two books before diving into this one.

Isabel Puddles is a widow from Gull Harbor, Michigan. She has a comfortable life and friends in her small town but there are things she's always wanted to do and places she's always wanted to see that she now has time for. One of those things is going to England to visit her penpal and friend, well known mystery author (and professor) Teddy Mansfield. He's invited her to stay in the carriage house at his home in the Cornish village of Mousehole. Isabel is excited by her trip both to see a friend and for the budding potential for more but really she's just delighted to live her life a little bigger than she has in the past. When she gets to England, she gets to know Teddy's sister Matilde, his housekeeper Tuppence, and the people in the village as well as all of the petty squabbles, long histories, and rivalries amongst them. Not surprisingly, when a cantankerous villager is found murdered and buried in her own garden after possibly sabotaging her competition in the village bake-off so she could win for yet another year, as an outsider, Isabel can make and see connections between people that others can't, while she works to solve the murder.

Isabel is a congenial character who easily and unconsciously wins over most of the other characters immediately. Since she has a history of successfully solving other murders in her own town, her credentials as an amateur sleuth are accepted without question in Mousehole. The police keep her abreast of the investigation and people answer her questions with few or no reservations. The whole novel is gentle and easy to read. The story is a slow meander through quirky characters and village politics (with a small p) and the murder doesn't happen until quite far into the book. It's a quaint read filled with delicious sounding scones, inquisitive corgis, and appealing British scenery to the point it's almost a cliche. For those times that you need an easy and uncomplicated read, or if you're a lover of cozy mysteries, this might be the read for you.

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