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Tuesday 19 January 2021

‘Death of a Diva at Honeychurch Hall’ by Hannah Dennison

Published by Constable,
5 November 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-4721-3379-3 (PB)

It was with delight that I received a copy Death of a Diva at Honeychurch Hall. A chance to dip into Little Dipperton, in Devon is always fun.  Although, the opening chapter finds Iris, secret novelist Krystalle Storm and mother of Kat Stanford ex-presenter of the antiques TV show Fakes and Treasures, rather out of sorts. It transpires that Iris has learned, amazingly from pursuing the Agony column in local paper Dipperton Deal, that her gentleman friend Dr Reynard Smeaton – he of the wonderful hands (don’t ask), is turning his attention to another.  In fact, to an old flame who is returning to the village. Cad!

The returning flame is the famous Lucia Lombardi, one of the greatest sopranos of all time.  Following a fire at the Theatre in Dartmouth where she was scheduled to appear, the Dowager Countess Lady Edith Honeychurch has at the bequest of her old friend Countess Olga Golodkin agreed to stage the production of The Merry Widow in the Honeychurch Hall’s dilapidated grand ballroom.

Kat’s meeting with Eric Pugsley, owner of The End-of-Life Scrapyard, well not so much a meeting more that his red Massey Ferguson tractor is blocking the road, elicits the information that Lucia Lombardi, or Julie Jones, as she was when she lived in village is ‘a bad sort’.  Mention of her dad poaching, and then there was that fire…?

With unsavoury Douglas Jones trying to sell her rubbish, a friend seeking an alibi and the arrival of the somewhat unpleasant Lucia Lombardi, and her mother’s broken heart, Kat has her hands full.  Then a murder brings Detective Inspector Shawn Cropper back into her life.  Is this a good or bad thing? Their relationship is tenuous to say the least.

The characters are marvellous, and the story romps along bringing more complications for Kat, not least from the unlikely source of Douglas Jones.  There is romance and plenty of humour, maybe not so funny for Lucia’s chauffeur Paolo who vanishes under a car airbag for the second time in four hours.

 With many surprises along the way this is intriguing mystery and most highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Hannah Dennison was born and raised in Hampshire, but on leaving school landed a job as an obituary writer/amateur dramatic reviewer for a Devon newspaper. Hannah is the author of the Honeychurch Hall Mysteries and the Vicky Hill Mysteries, both set in Devon, England. She has been an obituary reporter, antique dealer, private jet flight attendant and Hollywood story analyst. Hannah originally moved to Los Angeles from England to pursue screenwriting.  Hannah is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, The Crime Writers Association, Mystery People, The Historic Houses Association, the National Trust and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. She enjoys hiking, horseback riding, skiing, theatre and seriously good chocolate.

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