Anna Hopkins presumably thought her altercation with a murderer after discovering a dead body while walking her dog would be the last time such a thing happened. Her experiences led to making two new friends, Isadora and Tansy, a new sort-of-boyfriend, Jake, and a return to a semblance of normal life after a dreadful trauma earlier in her life. But then a death at the Oxford college where she works, followed by another death, and she finds herself involved in seeking the truth – especially when it seems that Isadora knew both victims in the past. And there’s a good chance that the killer isn’t finished with their work, as Isadora has the same threatening letter that the other victims received.
But that’s not all she has to contend with. After finally putting her parents’ murder behind her, a voice from her past threatens to bring it all up again…
I really enjoyed The White Shepherd, the first book in what is apparently called the Oxford Dogwalkers Mystery series (although someone really should have a word with Amazon who are currently referring to it as A Dog Mystery set in Oxford). The characters were strong and the plot was gripping enough to overlook any shortcomings.
As much as I enjoyed that one, I was a little less keen on this one, but I’m not entirely sure why. The tales of Isadora’s past as a possible-spy in the sixties didn’t really grab me as much as Tansy’s trials and tribulations in the previous book and they distracted somewhat from the main plot (even though they were integral to it). I’m also would have preferred more movement on the overall plot of the series – the denouement to this part generated more of a “huh!” than a “wow!” from me.
But there is still plenty to like here, especially if you prefer character driven mysteries to fair-play ones – and I think this is quite a way from playing fair – as I said, the central characters are compelling and the final sequence is very effective.
Hopefully the next book in the series will bring the arc concerning Anna’s family to a head – I’ll be keeping an eye out for it.