Dead In Devon (2019) by Stephanie Austin

Juno Browne runs her Domestic Goddess business in the village of Ashburton, Devon, doing various regular little jobs for people and just about making ends meet. She may have made a mistake when taking on Old Nick, an antique dealer of dubious reputation, but she finds herself growing to like him. She is less fond of the two Russian thugs who have been repeatedly threatening him.

When Nick is found dead, Juno, as one might expect, does some of her own sleuthing to try and find his killer, but it doesn’t go too well when her prime suspect is found murdered too. But when the police find that she also had a strong motive for killing Nick, Juno had better track down the real killer.

What is it about Devon? There are 27 counties in England, according to Google, but Devon certainly gets more than its fair share of fictional murders. Regardless, this turned up on my Kindle for 99p a little while ago and I thought I’d give it a go. I was in the market for an easy read and this seemed ideal.

It’s all very pleasant and I did like the characters. The mystery plot takes an age (i.e. half the book) to get going so the first part is introducing a large proportion of the characters. It’s never a good sign when the first chapter gives the murder and then we flashback to the build-up, as you just know that it’ll take a good while to get to that bit. And the characters, while pleasant, are a bit of a problem, as there are so many on Team Juno, so to speak, there isn’t much room for the suspects.

The clueing for the armchair sleuth is a bit Spartan, as while Juno doesn’t need the killer to start throttling her before she works out that he or she is a bad ‘un, most of the clues are visual or olfactory, things that aren’t explained to the reader until Juno explains it to the villain. And I’m sorry, but to me the killer stood out like a sore thumb…

Now the series is established though, I might return to it one day. I enjoyed Juno’s company, along with her retinue and the writing style is light and enjoyable. Hard core puzzle enthusiasts though might want to look elsewhere.

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