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Murder in Starry Cove by Lucinda Harrison

Title: Murder in Starry Cove ( A Poppy Lewis Mystery #1)

Author: Lucinda Harrison

Published on: 15th March 2021

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Murder in Starry Cove is the first book in Lucinda Harrison’s Poppy Lewis Mystery series.

Poppy Lewis is 36, recently divorced and looking forward to restarting her life. She’s inherited a Victorian mansion from her late uncle, Arthur Lewis, in Starry Cove. Poppy arrives at the mansion and learns the lights and gas connection are not fixed. The repairman was supposed to check the electrical work and the gas connection but he’s nowhere to be seen. The local postwoman, Harriet, comes over to deliver some mails and have a chat with Poppy. Soon, another Starry Cove resident comes over and tells them a body is found below the cliffs and it is Bobby, the repairman whom Poppy had employed. The next day, Poppy finds another body. The locals believe a stranger’s arrival (meaning Poppy) has turned their quiet town into a murder hotspot…

I am always on the lookout for new cozy mysteries. I stumbled upon Murder in Starry Cove and since it was available via KU, I thought of giving it a read. I have mixed opinions about this book. As a first in the series, I expected the spotlight to be on character introduction. Also, I am not very impressed with the character portrayal.

Poppy is dejected after her husband of many years cheated on her – his ‘mistress’ was none other than Poppy’s sister Lily. Poppy moves to Starry Cove to restart her life and within days of her arrival, there are two murders. Her house is broken into and the intruder has looked for something in the basement. In the meantime, Poppy has befriended two women from the town – Angie, a baker, and Harper, the postwoman. When Poppy requests the blueprint of her uncle’s house, she learns two more people had previously requested for the blueprint. The trio (Poppy, Angie and Harriet) learn the mansion holds a secret – a portion of the basement is modified for reasons unknown.

Murder in Starry Cove is a pretty good mystery but the character development/portrayal were not up to my liking. Poppy is childish and has no control over her emotions. When her sister Lily arrives at Starry Cove, Poppy loses her cool. Poppy was asked out on a date-ish by a local and she had agreed. Days later, Poppy sees her date with Lily and loses her temper. She confronts the man and walks out before he could explain his side of the story… This happens again when Lily arrives at the mansion to have a chat with Poppy and again at the church… Uff!

The new-found-friendship between Poppy, Angie and Harper seemed a little hurried-up. Within one or two meetings, Poppy tells her new friends about the basement and the secret plan. The trio decide to investigate not just the secrets of the mansion but also the murder cases. I would have liked the story better if Poppy alone had investigated the murders (only to prove her innocence) and maybe Harper and Angie could have joined her halfway through…

The identity of the killer was surprising. A tiny clue halfway through almost gave away their identity but I liked the red herring; in this case, Poppy is adamant she knows who the killer is. There is some ‘closure’ in the sibling rivalry part of the story – Lily and Poppy talk it out. Again, I felt Poppy was acting a little immature at deciding things.

Overall, this was an okay read. Impressive plot but some work needed on the character development.

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