The book contains two stories – Death Plays a Part and Rubies in the Roses.
Death Plays a Part
When the theater closes for renovation, costume maker Guinevere Evans finds a summer job at Cornisea Castle. Lord Bolingbrooke wants help in cataloging books so Mr. Betts, the theater director, recommends Ms.Evans.
The Castle is prepped for the reenactment of The Trial of Branok, a cold-hearted steward of Cornisea Castle who had been accused of vile acts against the villagers under his care. But when the actor playing Branok is found dead in the dungeons and Lord Bolingbrooke is the main suspect, Gwen and Dolly (dachshund), with the help of Oliver, decide to solve the case.
Rubies in the Roses
The villagers are coming to terms with the recent death of Arthur Haydock who was killed in the dungeons of the Cornisea Castle.
Gregory Wadencourt, a famous historian and Lord Bolingbrooke’s friend, makes an appearance at the castle along with his photographer Max DeBurgh. Wadencourt claims that a bejeweled wedding goblet titled “The Goblet of Rose and Stars” is hidden in the castle garden. A gardening historian named Vex has written an article about the goblet with hints and clues to find it and it will be soon published in the magazines. Wadencourt wants to find the goblet before the crowd starts rushing to the castle with spades.
Jago is found dead on the beach. Oliver is heartbroken and so are the villagers, after all, Jago was a well-known and loved man. Gwen and Oliver are not convinced that Jago’s death was accidental. Does Jago’s death have to do anything with the goblet? Gwen, Dolly, and Oliver decide to solve this mystery.
What a lovely and charming cozy series! The characters are so likable and the dogs, so adorable!! Dolly was so human-like! If Dolly was real and not a fictional character, then I would have definitely loved to cuddle the cute little dog! Dolly bossing over Vivaldi, Rufus and Nero was cuter than cute!
I really liked Gwen. Her dedication to solving the mystery behind Jago’s death and proving her employer’s innocence is well portrayed in the story. The characters in the first story include – Oliver Bolingbrooke (Lord Bolingbrooke’s son) Kensa and Tegen (mother-daughter duo who run the B&B), Jago (the boatman), Arthur Haydock ( a well-known lawyer, plays the role of Branok – victim), Leah Haydock (Arthur’s daughter), Meraud (Mr.Betts’ sister and owner of bookshop – Cowled Sleuth), Inspector LeFevre and Ela.
Inspector LeFevre reminded me of a Lestrade-Poirot clone. The inspector is pretty smart and intelligent. When Gwen helps him with the clues, he’s pretty cool about it.
The first story – Death Plays a Part was not only interesting but engaging and intense. I couldn’t put down the book till the end. A locked room murder mystery – How did the perp kill Haydock? The identity of the murderer and the reason for the murder was unexpected and shocking!
Coming to the second story in the book – Rubies in the Roses. This was another master-blaster story by Conroy. The mystery behind the mysterious wedding goblet caught my attention. Wadencourt finds the goblet in the castle all right. But something’s wrong with the goblet. And with Jago found dead on the beach, things get really murky.
Characters in the second story include – Lord Bolingbrooke and Oliver, Meraud, Lady Serena, Max DeBrough, Meraud, Inspector LeFevre and Gregory Wadencourt.
There is a mention of Saint Ganoc in the first story and in the second story, the statue of Saint Ganoc is somehow connected to the goblet. This is what I like about Conroy’s stories. Each and every detail gets equal importance and attention in the story.
In the second story, one gets to see the emotional side of Gwen. Her dilemma to choose between someone who is kind to her (and probably has fallen for her) and finding the real ‘agenda’ behind the perp’s arrival at the castle. The relationship between Oliver and Gwen has improved too. After having solved the mystery behind Haydock’s murder, Oliver and Gwen now share a bond of friendship.
Dolly was at her all-time best in both the stories. I really liked the way Conroy has portrayed the relationship between a pet-owner and her pet. However, I wish there was some romance between Oliver and Gwen. Or maybe there is, in the next book in this series. Ollie and Gwen were so likable and they had so much in common so a bit of romance is something that I can expect, right?
Vivian Conroy is a master storyteller and these two stories are just the proof of it. I got to know her through twitter and I must say that she’s the sweetest person that I have ever met! Her stories are super duper charming and cozy. If you love cozy mysteries then I recommend you to read Cornish Castle Mysteries. The stories are engaging, interesting, charming and cozy to the moon and back.
Character Development: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
Title: Cornish Castle Mystery Collection (Cornish Castle Mystery #1-2)
Author: Vivian Conroy
Published on: December 1st 2018
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Fiction
Featured Image Credits: NetGalley
Thank you, HQ Digital for the ARC. This is my honest and unbiased review.