My favorite author Vivian Conroy is back with another exciting series. I love her writing. And her stories are so charming, so charming that you want to dive into the book and give Mr. Pug and Coco a teddy bear hug!!
A Country Gift Shop Collection is a collection of three stories.
Dead to Begin With
Vicky Simmons decides to come back to the town that she was born in. After spending more than a decade as a foreign correspondent, Vicky’s decided to open a gift shop in Glen Cove. But her mother, Claire Simmons, isn’t convinced of her daughter’s reason for coming back to Glen Cove. Meanwhile, Michael Fanning is back too, and so is Diane Dobbs. Celine, Diane’s twin sister, went missing twenty three years ago. Michael, who was Celine’s boyfriend, was the main suspect. But they had to let him go due to lack of evidence. Michael left Glen Cove after that. The Dobbs moved away too; after Celine’s alleged death, they didn’t want to stay in Glen Cove.
As a teenager, Vicky had the hots for Michael. Now that he’s back, she’s already sees sparks flying, at least from her they are.
Vicky learns that Diane is in town to reopen her sister’s case. Michael has now taken over the only newspaper office in Glen Cove. Cash Rowling, another childhood friend is now the sheriff of Glen Cove.
When Sheriff Perkins’s barn is set on fire, Vicky believes that Celine’s killer is back. With another death soon after, the killer is now trying to erase any possible evidence. Will Vicky be able to prove that Michael is innocent?
What a charming start to a charming Cozy series! A gift shop that deals with everything British is a very interesting concept.
I liked each and every character in the story. Each one of them were unique and well portrayed. This includes the perp whose identity was unexpected!! I liked the way the story proceeded – from Vicky’s arrival to she finding the killer. The story was engaging and entertaining.
Marge Fisher’s role in the story is well appreciated. I liked the bonding between Marge and Vicky. How can I not mention Ms. Tennings!! With a knitting kit in her bag and she being a former nanny and all, I don’t know why but she reminded me of Miss Marple! I am aware of the fact that Conroy is a huge fan of Agatha Christie and maybe she wanted to create a character that made her readers remind them of Miss Marple. Right, Viv?
Mortimer and Gwenda Gill’s cat and mouse fight gave this story an additional kick. The duo are divorced but Gwenda plays the role of a nagging and revengeful ex-wife. An interesting twist somewhere in the middle makes people wonder if Gwenda is somehow involved in all this murder mess.
Grand Prize: Murder!
Bella Brookes, the famous Cozy author is in Glen Cove! Marge cannot seem to contain her excitement. Lilian, Deke’s wife and Cash Rowland’s sister-in-law, invites Marge and Vicky to a party, provided they manage to bring Bella Brookes along. Sydney, Lillian’s brother, has his eyes set on Bella and they two seem inseparable during the length of the party. But the next day, Vicky finds Lilian at her door. Lilian says that there’s a dead body in the conservatory.
The murder is made a hush affair, after all, Lilian doesn’t want the news of murder to tarnish her image. But with Bella’s book tour and treasure hunt organized by the PR and publishing company, the news of murder spreads like fire. To add to this mess, Bella is now a suspect in the murder.
Did the story just get interesting or what! A famous author involved in a murder, woohoo! There’s a lot of secrets involved in this one. And someone’s managed to shake the hornet’s nest.
I loved the concept of including a Cozy author involved in a murder. I loved the way the story proceeded. Each of the characters play a unique role in the story, making it even more interesting.
The trio – Marge, Ms. Tennings and Vicky form an awesome women sleuths group. The story is incomplete without the mention of Mr. Pug and Coco, who get more adorable with each story! Claire isn’t happy about Vicky being caught up in another murder mess.
Michael seems distant. After finding out the truth behind Celine’s death, he’s changed a bit. Diane is in Glen Cove with her husband and three kids. She forms quite a bond with Vicky. Bob Jones, the cousin of Joneses, is busy charming old ladies and young.
Once again, Conroy displays her excellent storytelling skills in this second installment of Country Gift Shop series. It goes without saying that the story was interesting and entertaining.
Written into the Grave
Archibald Goodridge has been murdered. A dog walker found his body at the bottom of the cliffs. Marge’s writing group is writing a piece for the Glen Gazette. Titled Seaside Secrets, each member of the writing group publishes their part of the story. Today’s story is written by Trevor and his story describes, point to point, how Archibald was killed. With the story published before the actual murder, the residents of Glen Cove are baffled. Is Marge’s writing group in trouble? Vicky decides to find out the truth behind this murder mystery.
Imagine you read a story in the newspaper. It is a (fictional) story of a point-of-view character who kills a man. Every detail of the murder and the plot is described, point to point. You take your dogs for a walk and you see a dead body. The victim is killed as per the fictional story you just read.
This is how the third installment of the Country Gift Shop starts. Vicky reads the paper, takes her mother’s dogs for a walk and hears about the murder. She accompanies Cash Rowland to the victim’s house. The wife must be informed of her husband’s death, you see.
Gunhild, Archibald’s wife, is shocked to hear the news of her husband’s death. They were supposed to celebrate their third wedding anniversary today and instead, she now has to make funeral arrangements. Gunhild is an artist and makes sculptures for a living.
Trevor is arrested and taken into custody. He maintains that he’s innocent. Kaylee, Archibald’s daughter is involved in the murder too. Or at least, the initial evidence suggests that. But Vicky isn’t convinced that Kaylee, a teenager who adored her father, could kill him in a fit of rage.
I loved the way the story proceeds. From the story in the newspaper to Vicky’s sleuthing, it just gets more and more interesting. The characters are well portrayed. Gunhild, Kaylee, Trevor and Doug and how their past and present lives are related to the case.
And as an additional bonus, there is a love triangle of sorts. Though the first two stories saw Vicky being a lost puppy when around Michael, in this story, well… I am not going to reveal the secret and spoil it for you.
Conroy’s writing and storytelling skills are excellent. All you have to do is start reading and before you know, you are halfway through the book and you just can’t stop till you reach the end. The story is engaging and captivating.
So, in brief, all the three stories are really good and I cannot choose a favorite. If you are looking for a super Cozy and entertaining series, then Country Gift Shop series is THE book.
Character Development: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
Title: A Country Gift Shop Collection
Author: Vivian Conroy
Published on: 03 October 2018
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Featured Image Credits: NetGalley
Thank you, HQ Digital and NetGalley for the ARC.
Purchase Links: Amazon.com