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Wednesday, 22 July 2020

‘Mystery at Seagrave Hall’ by Clare Chase

Published by Bookouture,
8 June 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-83888529-8 (PB)

“As Jim spoke, memories of Friday flooded through her mind: the awful scream, the vicar’s jaw going slack in the doorway of the tepee, then rushing up the lawn with him.”

Eve Mallow eschewed city life to choose a quieter existence in Saxford St Peter’s and now lives happily in Elizabeth’s Cottage along with Gus, her delightful doggy companion.  Eve supplements her writing income by working part time at Monty’s, the tea shop owned by her friend Viv.  The pair make a perfect team as Viv’s sometimes startling entrepreneurial flair is complemented by Eve’s penchant for planning and attention to detail.  All in all, Eve loves the tranquillity of her home and new friends even though she has twice been called upon to solve mysterious deaths. 

This third book opens as the two pals are setting up their stall for the village fete in the grounds of Seagrave Hall.  Eve is excited not just because this is her first visit to the prestigious country house, but also because she hopes to meet members of the Seagrave family and, in particular, the famous explorer Verity Nye who is soon to marry the eventual heir Rupert Seagrave.  Eve is delighted to have the opportunity to talk to Verity in person when their paths cross during last minute preparations for the summer event.  During the course of their conversation though, it becomes clear that all is not well with the adventurer.

Later, amidst the hustle and bustle of the fete, Eve overhears a disturbing conversation involving the troubled Verity.  She barely has time to process what she has heard when things take an alarming turn as she watches someone fall from one of the upper windows of Seagrave Hall.  She rushes to the scene and discovers to her horror that the victim is Verity and that she is dead!  A three-year-old boy shocks the already discomfited onlookers when he says Verity’s fall was no accident and that he had seen who had pushed her.  This testimony is discounted by other onlookers and, importantly, the police.  Little Dylan Walker, by his mother’s own admission, has a propensity for exaggeration, but Eve is less inclined to dismiss what the boy says.  She requests, and is given, the job of writing Verity’s obituary and this allows her to interview not only Verity’s ex-colleagues but also the dysfunctional family that she was about to join.  Her interrogations uncover a multitude of carefully hidden secrets.  Eve soon realises that there is no shortage of people who might have wanted Rupert’s fiancée dead and, as she moves ever closer to exposing the murderer, she finds herself in a race against time to avoid more killings. 

Clare Chase writes with pace and perception and her protagonist Eve Mallow is intelligent, amusing and someone I was very happy to spend time with.  Saxford St Peter’s positively teems with eccentric, entertaining and, occasionally, evil characters as they make their way through a plot that proves, yet again, that nowhere is more dangerous than an English village on a sunny, summer’s day! 

Mystery At Seagrave Hall is the third book in the Eve Mallow Mystery series and the first I have read.  It works perfectly as a stand-alone novel.  This is cosy crime at its most charming, a hugely enjoyable story and one I highly recommend.
Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Clare Chase writes fast-paced romantic mysteries, using London and Cambridge as settings. Her influences include JD Robb, Janet Evanovich, Mary Stewart and Sue Grafton. Brought up in the Midlands, she went on to read English at London University, then worked in book and author promotion in venues as diverse as schools, pubs and prisons. More recently she’s exercised her creative writing muscles in the world of PR and worked for the University of Cambridge. Her current day job is at the Royal Society of Chemistry.  Her writing is inspired by what makes people tick, and how strong emotions can occasionally turn everyday incidents into the stuff of crime novels. It would be impossible not to mix these topics with romance and relationships; they’re central to life and drive all forms of drama. When she’s not reading or writing, Clare enjoys drawing, cooking and trips to the Lake District. Closer to home she loves wandering round the pubs, restaurants and galleries of Cambridge where she lives with her husband and two teenage daughters.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this lovely review, Dot - I'm really delighted that you enjoyed the book! And many thanks to Lizzie too, for organising/hosting!