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Sunday 28 November 2021

Murder in Miniature at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison.

Published by Constable,
4 November 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-4721-3380-9 (PB)

We catch up with the happenings in Little Dipperton in Devon on a boiling hot September day. Iris, mother of Kat Stanford, ex-presenter of the antiques TV show Fakes and Treasures, is advising Kat that the offer of first refusal from Violet Green who is clearing out her dead sister Lavender’s bedroom, will not yield any treasures, as she bought everything from car boot sales. Iris then drops the bombshell that Monty has asked her to marry him. This anouncement renders Kat speechless, since the prospective bridegroom is the odious Sir Monty Stubbs-Thomas. Further discussion is halted by the arrival of Eric Pugsley, owner of The End-of-Life Scrapyard, who croaks’ out the words ‘there’s been a murder,’ drops his shovel and passes out.

The body turns out to be one Charlie Green, who had left the village some years previously and moved to Ireland. Or did he? As Charlie supposedly left the village before Iris and Kat’s arrival it comes as a surprise to them that Lavender was Charlie’s aunt (Where have I heard that before?)

Soon the village is agog with theories, one being that it was known that Charlie, a well-known rogue, was having a thing! with Eric Pugsley wife Vera. Guess who is suspect No 1?

The local policeman is Detective Inspector Shawn Cropper, who is currently away, much to Kat’s regret. They have an on/off relationship. As Shawn’s keeping in touch with Kat has dwindled to spasmodic, I reckon it’s in the off stage at the moment. His replacement is DI Gregory Mallory who turns out to be rather well-built.

As Kat heads to Violet Green’s to do a house clearance she espies Sir Monty’s car, and adjusting her underwear is her mother’s best friend Delia Evans. Oh, dear!

Her inspection of the goods at Violet’s are unexpectedly rewarding, china, figurines, ornaments and tucked away a custom-made dollhouse of Honeychurch Hall and a box of furniture labelled for Charlottes dolls House, in which she finds a pair of miniature portraits.  When Kat learns that the miniatures, she has found are part of a set of six, and are rare, she sets out to trace the missing four, and in doing so, she stumbles on several mysteries, and they all lead to local antique dealers.

While trying to untangle the history behind the missing items, Kat learns that Lady Lavinia has installed a shepherd’s hut in the walled garden of Honeychurch Hall, which has been rented by a mysterious woman who says she is a writer. She throws out some hints that lead the villagers to think that she is the celebrated, secret novelist Krystalle Storm. This naturally makes Kat very suspicious, as she knows that Krystalle Storm is her mother Iris. So, who is this unknown woman? Yes, I hear you cry – another antique dealer.

Then another dead body is discovered and things hot up alarmingly. This is an intriguing mystery with many twists and turns. As Kat draws closer to the truth, she realises that someone will stop at nothing, not even murder, to keep their secret. 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.