Title: Murder at the Castle (An Iris Grey Mystery #2)
Author: M.B. Shaw
Published on: 10th December 2020
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | Cozy Mystery
Murder at the Castle is the second book in M.B. Shaw’s Iris Grey series and can be read as a standalone.
Iris Grey, a portraitist, at the request of Baron Jock MacKinnon, arrives at Pitfeldy Castle in the Scottish Highlands. Jock is getting married again (for the third time) and has commissioned Iris to paint a portrait of his American fiancé Kathy Miller. Iris arrives at the railway station and is taken to the castle in a cab – the driver talks about how the Wicked Witch of the West (as the highlanders call Kathy) is trying to ruin their heritage.
Kathy has heard of Iris’ previous sleuthing adventure and when Iris arrives at the Castle, it becomes clear that Kathy’s intent to call upon Iris to paint her portrait has got to do with finding the culprit behind the mysterious threatening letters she’s been receiving. Kathy and Iris go for a walk on the Castle grounds when Kathy’s dogs start to bark suddenly and bring back a piece of human jaw clutched in their mouth. The local police are called in and skeletal remains of two people are found.
I am only going to sing praises because I absolutely loved every bit of this story! What a fantastic cozy mystery! Likable characters, excellent storytelling, lovely setting (Scottish Highlands!!!) and a mystery to keep one guessing till the end. If I have to describe this book in a word, I would say ‘WOW!’
Iris Grey is a painter and is called in by the Baron of Pitfeldy to paint a portrait of Kathy. Iris arrives at the castle and befriends Kathy. Unlike the rest of the family and locals, Iris finds Kathy to be friendly and lover-of-life. Kathy confides in Iris about the mysterious threatening letters she’s been receiving – the writer warns her of Jock and his dark past.
“Kathy had meant it when she’d told Jock she liked Iris. She’d chosen her because she loved the idea of having her very own Miss Marple in residence to help her figure out who was sending those horrid notes.”
Iris is recently divorced and finds a summer fling in Jamie, a local fisherman. We have a dash of romance here – Iris and Jamie; also, the local DI, Stuart Haley, finds an ally in Iris. Well, there’s also a possibility of a love triangle as the story proceeds – Haley repeatedly asks Iris to meet over for lunch or dinner to ‘discuss the case’. Meanwhile, Jamie gets what he wants – he ‘orders’ Iris to go out for a date.
Coming to the mystery behind finding two skeletal remains in the Castle grounds, the suspects list is long. Jock doesn’t want DI Haley to investigate. Then there’s the case of the giller (an estate manager), Edwin, who is currently lodged in a care home – Jock and Edwin were childhood friends; Edwin’s son Angus manages the estate now.
We also get to see Iris ‘correct’ Kathy’s “Americanisms”. As the story proceeds, Kathy and Iris’ bond becomes stronger. They even make a bonus trip to Vienna – partly to do with the case and partly to do with Kathy’s wedding gown shopping.
Overall, Murder at the Castle is a fantastic mystery. The ending is mind-blowing. The identity of the perp and the reason behind the murders were unexpected and shocking. We also see a change in Kathy as the story ends. Iris is called in by the agent, asking her to prepare for the next job (painting, not sleuthing!).
Murder at the Castle by M.B. Shaw is an engrossing, entertaining and unique mystery. I highly recommend you to read it.
I received an ARC of this book from Orion Publishing Group and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.