⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 4.5 stars
Gemma Rose, owner of the Little Stables Tearoom in Oxford, has had her cat, Muesli, entered in the village fete cat show by her well-meaning mother, Evelyn Rose. Muesli, a common moggie cat, has no chance of winning this pure breed expedition. Dame Claire Eccleston, a snobbish, uppity opponent in the contest, makes this fact clearly known when she scornfully insults Muesli with the common farmhouse moggie designation. As Gemma anxiously awaits the judging of the cats, a scream rings out, and Dame Claire is knocked down in the crowd. But the woman doesn’t get back up. She’s dead, presumably of a heart attack, clutching an angina pill in one hand as she lay on the ground. She was at risk after all, being overweight and continually warned by her doctor to watch her intake of fattening desserts. She’d callously ignored his advice, even wolfing down rich cake she brought to the fete. But when her manner of death is called into question, Gemma sets out to uncover the real cause of death and the culprit behind the murder. This will prove to be a daunting task since Dame Claire Eccleston, Gemma quickly learns, was disliked by almost everyone she’d come in contact with.
Till Death do us Tart is another entertaining instalment in the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries series. H.Y. Hanna delivers yet another solid mystery, infused with intellect and wit that keeps you engaged from start to finish. Her audio narrator for the series, Pearl Hewitt, is outstanding. Her portrayal of the characters’ emotions—astonishment, exasperation, horror, chagrin, further enhances the story. Her impersonations can’t be beat, from the old biddies, to the maid at Eccleston House, and even Muesli the cat, are some of the best I’ve ever heard. An intrinsic quality that serves this series well.
If you enjoy well-crafted British cozy mysteries, you’ll love Till Death Do us Tart. And for those who like listening to audiobooks, this one is a winner.
Two Down, Bun to Go by H.Y. Hanna My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Professor Quentin Barrow is found dead, stabbed to death with an Egyptian Dagger. Gemma’s former Oxford chum and still good friend, Seth Browning, is charged with the murder. Seth was seen arguing with professor Barrow before the body was discovered. A staunch advocate for the homeless and other such causes, Seth was getting pushback from the professor regarding a piece of college donated property that would have benefited the homeless. Barrow’s pompous, elitist attitude disgusted Seth, and his repulsion for the man was evident. Gemma knows her friend could not have committed the murder, although she must admit his current odd, uncharacteristic and mysterious behavior is quite alarming. But how can she prove his innocence when there is so much circumstantial evidence pointing to Seth? With the help of handsome CID Detective and former boyfriend, Devlin O’Connor, contending beau, Lincoln Green, and the meddlesome but lovable Old Biddies, Gemma uncovers a slew of others who might have killed the unpopular professor. The question is, which one of them actually did?
I don’t know how H.Y. Hanna manages it, but each successive book in her Oxford Tearoom Mystery series is better than the last. Don’t let the whimsical, cute little cover fool you. They rival other renowned and beloved writers of British mysteries hands down. Her characters’ magnetic personalities captivate; from the endearing to the villainous, they’re all equally entertaining. The way in which she describes her mother’s witty charms and hapless adventures, the antics of the Old Biddies, and little Muesli the cat, never fails to elicit chuckles. The plot moves along effortlessly as the reader is immersed in English life and subtly educated about the peculiarities and uniqueness of the University of Oxford—a real treat and added bonus.
Read it, you’ll LOVE it. And if you want an even greater experience, do yourself a favor and listen to the audio version. The narrator does a stupendous job of bringing the characters to life. Very, very highly recommended.
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