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Saturday 11 May 2024

‘Murder at Tanton Towers’ by Amy Myers

Published by Severn House,
5 May 2022.
ISBN: 978-1-4483-0997-9 (PB)

Cara Shelley is very happy running her café The Happy Huffkin, (the huffkin is a traditional Kentish flat bread that has a dimple in the top and is served with a cherry, jam and cream). The café is situated in a folly belonging to Tanton Towers, a stately home owned by Cara’s friends Max and Alison Farran Pryde. Tanton Towers had been built in the late eighteenth century by the eccentric Sir Jeffry Farran and the mock gothic edifice he designed is as eccentric as the man who created it. Cara loves Tanton Towers and regards all those who live and work there as close friends, almost family. Max spends most of his life engrossed in his obsession, his collection of paintings by Lavinia Fortuna, one of the first successful female artists of the Renaissance. Max houses the Fortuna paintings in a specially designed gallery, La Galleria and spends most of his time there. Because of her husband’s abstraction it has become customary for Alison to call on Cara to help her to sort things out whenever there is a problem. However, this time when Alison screams for help Cara knows there is something far more serious than the need to remove a large spider and she is correct, Alison has just discovered a body in the orangery and it is obvious that she has been murdered.

The victim is Daphne Hanson, the wife of the Tower’s accountant. Although Daphne did not work at Tanton Towers she led a dance troupe that performs there regularly and she has become very much part of the team that forms the core of the Towers’ provision.

Cara is distressed by Daphne’s murder and devastated by the probability that the killer is one of the people who work at the Towers. As Cara is the person who always sorts things out, she is determined to discover the truth and hopefully clear her friends. She has encountered the SIO in charge of the case previously when, Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Mitchem visited her café and is irritated by him, mainly because he suggested alternative accompaniments to the huffkin rather than a cherry and Cara regarded this as outrageous.

When Mitchem warns her that her unofficial sleuthing could prove dangerous, Cara decides to ignore his advice and carries on investigating. At first she can think of no motive for Daphne’s murder. It is true that she was a tactless, impetuous woman who could be irritatingly nosey but she was basically a sweet, likeable person. However after a while Cara identifies several reasons for Daphne’s death, although none of them seem sufficient for such an evil crime. She is not surprised that Max is convinced that Daphne discovered a plot to steal his beloved Fortuna paintings, which led to her death, but Cara realises that there is also rivalry about which of the people who work at Tanton Towers will first publish a book about the history of the house. The two other people in this race are both serious academics and would have taken longer to write their books than Daphne who had planned a romantic account of Sir Jeffry and the smugglers tunnel. Other rivalries involve Daphne’s desire to lead tours of the smugglers tunnel, which would usurp the role of the staff member who arranges such events. Another motive, which Cara prefers because it takes the crime away from the core team at the house, is that one of the dance troupe covets Daphne’s role as leader. All of these suggestions are different from the line that Mitchem and his detectives are taking and Cara continues to investigate, determined to save the Tanton Towers team, but as she draws nearer to discovering the truth her own life is increasingly in danger.

Murder at Tanton Towers is the first in a new series featuring Cara and the other inhabitants of the historic house. Cara is an engaging protagonist and several of the other characters are likeable and delightfully eccentric, as is the Tanton Towers setting. This book is a gently paced and enjoyable cosy crime novel, a promising start to a new series.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Amy Myers
was born in Kent, where she still lives. For many years she worked as a director in a London publishing firm, before realising her dream to become a writer. Her first series featured detective, August Didier, a half French, half English master chef in late Victorian and Edwardian times. She also writes a series with her American husband James Myers, featuring Jack Colby, car detective, there are 8 books in the series. Her most recent series is set post WW1, featuring chef-sleuth Nell Drury. There are three books in this series.  She has also written nine books featuring Marsh and Daughter, and in between a series about a Victorian chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Amy also writes historical novels and suspense under the name Harriet Hudson.

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 6 further mysteries. 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 click on the title
Death and the Dancing Snowman

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