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Wednesday 15 April 2020

‘A Body in the Bookshop’ by Helen Cox

Published by Quercus Books,
19 March 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-52940-223-0 (PB)

Six weeks before the opening of this story, Evie Bowes had endured the nightmare of being suspected of the murder of her boyfriend. This ordeal had culminated in her being kidnapped and brought near to death. This experience left her scarred emotionally and physically. Evie has never been the most confident of people and now she is grateful that the winter weather is cold, which gives her an excuse to wear concealing clothes to hide the scars on her face from all but her closest friends. Evie’s best friend, Kitt Hartley, fought to prove her innocence and is trying to restore her friend’s shattered confidence. However, Evie still finds it embarrassing to be around Kitt’s new boyfriend, Detective Inspector Malcolm Halloran, even though she is grateful to him for helping to save her life. Evie feels even more indebted to Halloran’s junior officer, Detective Sergeant Charlotte ‘Charley’ Banks, and remembers the kindness and sensitivity that the sergeant had treated her with when she was shocked and injured.

Halloran tells Kitt and Evie that Charley Banks has been accused of assaulting a suspect and suspended from duty. She has made an enemy of the new superintendent, who has just arrived to take over, and there is nothing Halloran can do to help her. Kitt is a librarian at the local university and is passionate about books, which means that her interest is captured by the fact that the young man who was assaulted was suspected of robbing a York bookshop and stealing several valuable first edition books. Evie’s reason for investigating is more personal, she wants to help Charley and prove her innocence. To do this, Evie puts herself on the line, even using her scarred face as an excuse to infiltrate the hospital where the beaten suspect is recovering. As her relationship with Charley develops, Evie discovers things about herself that she had never understood. The investigation gets more dangerous as theft and assault turn into murder but Kitt, Evie are determined to get to the truth, helped by Kitt’s lively young assistant, Grace.

A Body in the Bookshop is the second book in the series featuring Kitt Hartley and Evie Bowes. Although it is described as a Kitt Hartley Yorkshire Mystery, the major viewpoint protagonist is Evie, as it chronicles her struggle to come to terms with her disfigurement and cope with changes in her attitudes to her life and her relationships. A Body in the Bookshop is an entertaining story. The central characters are all appealing and York at Christmas makes a delightful background. An enjoyable read that I would recommend to those who enjoy cosy crime.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Helen Cox is a Yorkshire-born novelist and poet. After completing her MA in creative writing at the University of York St. John Helen wrote for a range of magazines and websites as well as for TV and radio news. Helen has edited her own independent film magazine and penned three non-fiction books. Her first two novels were published by HarperCollins in 2016. She currently hosts The Poetrygram podcast and works for City Lit, London. Helen’s new series of cosy mysteries stars librarian-turned-sleuth Kitt Hartley and is set in York.      

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.
 To read a review of Carol latest book Strangers and Angels click on the title.

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