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Scones and Scandal by Agatha Frost

Title: Scones and Scandal (A Peridale Café Cozy Mystery #22)

Author: Agatha Frost

Published on: 25th May 2021

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Scones and Scandal is the 22nd book in Agatha Frost’s A Peridale Café Cozy Mystery series.

Peridale Café series is one of the first cozy mysteries I read and I have been following this series for over two years now. The main characters have now reached their peak (in life and sleuthing) and the other residents of Peridale village now know whom to contact if in trouble.

Julia gave birth to a baby girl months ago and is now adjusting to motherhood. Barker, her husband, is thriving in his P.I. business (he was a detective before he gave up his job to pursue a full-time career in writing. Somehow, it didn’t suit him and he returned to sleuthing). Katie and Brian (Julia’s stepmother and father) have an offer on Katie’s dad’s mansion. Meanwhile, Jessie, Julia’s adopted daughter, is spending a year abroad with her biological brother Alfie.

Scones and Scandal is way different from the usual plot of this series. Agatha Frost has experimented with this kind of deviation from the series plot a couple of times before. I really admire the author’s talent. Frost is a fantastic storyteller and I love her writing style.

The story starts with Penelope, the new leader of neighborhood watch, pestering Julia about the parked car in the alley behind the café. Grandma Dot (Julia’s grandmother) and most of the villagers are not happy with Penelope’s behavior – she’s pestered them too for silly reasons. A series of burglaries has kept the villagers attentive than before. Julia’s neighbor Leah’s house is burglarized and the perp runs away before Barker could catch him red-handed. This is followed by Grandma Dot’s phone call, informing Julia of Penelope’s murder – someone bashed her head at the graveyard.

We have two mysteries here – a series of burglaries and a murder. Penelope was well-known for her antics and the villagers disliked her. But who would have wanted her dead? List of suspects is long and the local police do not know how to proceed – either with the murder case or with the burglaries. Grandma Dot crosses the line here. When Ethel White claims she’s the new leader of the neighborhood watch, Grandma Dot loses her cool. Dot’s always been ‘the best’ at everything. She starts a watch team of her own. This goes horribly wrong (halfway through the story) and Dot is reduced to tears – well, Dot crossed the line and her teammates had every right to be annoyed!

Julia’s torn between solving the mysteries and looking after her baby. But curiosity and gossip gets the better of her and she decides to join Dot’s watch team. In all the previous books of this series, we had Julia solving the case. But things are a little different here. For once, it is not Julia who’s connected the missing dots. (Clue’s in the sentence so I won’t be telling you who caught the perp red-handed.)

After a series of dull reads, I was wondering if this book is also going to be the same. I am happy the series is now going in a new direction – a slight deviation from the original plot but it is surely to get interesting in the future. Dot’s neighborhood watch team is called Peridale’s Ears and in the next book, the team is going to save the library from being converted to a restaurant. I cannot wait to see how things are going to work out for the newly formed team!

Since this is the 22nd book in the series, I do not want to talk about character development. I suppose the series has reached a stage where the spotlight is on solving mysteries. The only character I missed seeing in this story is Jessie. We do have glimpses of her life abroad and Jessie might have found a new boyfriend – something that Julia might find out in near future…

Overall, Scones and Scandal by Agatha Frost is an entertaining and engaging read. If you love cozy mysteries, you might want to give this series a try. The author says each book in the series can be read as a standalone but if you ask me, I would say start from the beginning. This is definitely one of the series I will be following till the end.

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