My rating: Beach vacation (3/5)
In keeping with my recent mystery affliction, I’ve moved to a more cozy setting in Death Comes to the Village. Major Robert Kurland has returned home to Kurland St. Mary bedridden from the battle of Waterloo. When he witnesses a furtive man moving a heavy load in the dead of night, his suspicions are raised. Unfortunately, the nature of his wounds prevent him from investigating the matter. When his former nurse, Lucy Harrington, a woman he’s known since childhood, reveals that two young girls from the village have also gone missing, the pair decide to pull their resources together and discover what exactly is going on in their home.
While the Major is secluded because of his injuries, Miss Harrington is imprisoned by her duties to her siblings and her widowed father. When she’s asked by the Major to make some inquiries she’s happy to do so as it changes up her strictly structured days. However, the more she questions those in her village the more her own safety is threatened. And with no one watching her back, Lucy just might find herself in serious harm. Death Comes to the Village is the start to what promises to be a nice series; and it reads like the start of a series. The principle investigators are introduced: Major Kurland and Miss Harrington, as well as the small village where, presumably, the bulk of their investigations will take place. Because this is the first in a series, the mystery is resolved, but many character conflicts concerning Robert and Lucy are not. Robert and Lucy are both chafing at their restraints, his physical inabilities, Lucy, her desire for something more than housekeeper for her father. Whether either will find there way past these barriers will only be revealed in subsequent books.
What I did feel disappointed in was the lack of “spark” between Robert and Lucy. Having read reviews of the book, I was expecting more of a romantic nature to their relationship, and it really wasn’t, at least not at this point. Robert and Lucy are somewhat friends, they both like to order each other about, but it seems to work for them. Also, since Robert was home bound, this certainly limited the types of interactions these two could have. I can only hope that the author will step it up a notch in the romance department.
While I do think the dynamic between Robert and Lucy has promise, for me it was Lucy that stood out. I really liked how the author used Lucy, a twenty-five year old spinster, to explore a woman’s place during Regency England. By all accounts, Lucy is not a renowned beauty and the death of her mother prevented her from coming out in society. Now that her siblings are all grown up, Lucy is desperate to grasp hold of her independence and hopefully set up her own household, which she can only do by marrying. You can’t help but feel for Lucy’s predicament that marriage is her only option to achieve her own independence, and to see how her father continuously takes advantage of her connection to the family is appalling. I found myself really rooting for Lucy and I hope that she makes it to London and finds a way to be independence, and still solve crimes, of course.
Death Comes to the Village is a nice little mystery and a promising start to a series. While I was expecting more of a romantic focus between the two investigators, I’m happy with their friendship and the potential for something further to develop. I have no problems recommending this to cozy mystery and historical mystery fans alike. Looking forward to book two!
Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby series is a must-read if you enjoyed Death Comes to the Village. While I recommend that you start with book one, The Anatomist’s Wife, I think fans of Lloyd will enjoy book two, Mortal Arts in particular. In Mortal Arts the idea of post-traumatic stress disorder is explored, and as the affects of war is part of Death Comes to the Village, readers might appreciate a deeper exploration of this subject. The mystery is also well developed and executed. I’ve previously reviewed Mortal Arts in full.
Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series is also a good choice if you liked Death Comes to the Village. Willig’s series focuses more on spies and relies more on humour, but the quaint quality of this series is likely to appeal. For a practical and no-nonsense heroine like Lucy Harrington, give The Deception of the Emerald Ring a try.
If, like me, you were hoping for more romance, I suggest taking a look at Suzanne Enoch’s A Lady’s Guide to Improper Behavior. Here, you will also get a wounded war hero who’s confined to his home for a good chunk of the narrative. Happily, this does not stop the couple from getting up to some shenanigans. While there is a bit of a suspenseful subplot here, mystery is not the focus of the novel, rather, it is the adorable romance between a very proper young lady and a cranky colonel.