Death at Dapple Dyke by Robin Roughley

Title: Death at Dapple Dyke (A Robert Engelbart Mystery #1)

Author: Robin Roughley

Published on: 15th June 2021

Genre: Cozy Mystery (Historical/Rural)

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Robert Engelbart inherits his Aunt Edith’s cottage in the picturesque village of Dapple Dyke. The truth is, Robert has been to the village just once – when he was ten years old. He was never in contact with Aunt Edith and wonders why she left him her house.

Robert is an author by profession. Or rather, an author by chance. He tried his hand at many jobs – unsuccessfully – before sitting down to write not one but two bestsellers named Bitter Pill and A Barrel of Broken biscuits. When Robert wrote these books, he was young and angry at being betrayed in love. He dated someone for a few years and one day, she broke it off… She said she despised him and fell in love with… Robert’s publisher! The same publisher with whom Robert released his bestsellers… the same publisher with whom Robert still works… Uff!

Dapple Dyke is not as tranquil as it appears. Bert, a local and Aunt Edith’s friend, warns Robert to keep distance from the WI – the notorious local women’s group who live, breathe and eat Gossip. Things take a turn for worse when Robert discovers a dead body in the local church. As a newcomer and stranger, Robert is blamed for the murder.

Death at Dapple Dyke is the first book in Robin Roughley’s Robert Engelbart Mystery series. A rural cozy mystery set in the 1960s, Death at Dapple Dyke is a terrific series debut.

Robert Engelbart is quirky, annoying at times and brilliant at the science of deduction (as we learn at the end of the story.) He has no idea why Aunt Edith wanted him to own her house. He hardly remembers his time at Dapple Dyke. He never kept in touch with Edith after his five-month stay at Dapple Dyke.

He’s going through a bout of writer’s block. Um, writer’s block for the past three years… He wonders if a change of atmosphere might bring his writing mojo back. Soon after arriving at the village, he discovers a body at the local church. The victim was a housekeeper at the Big House. Curiosity gets the better of him and Robert starts to unravel clues that lead him to ultimately solve the case.

As I was reading through the book, I felt some of the dialogs had a double meaning – innuendos. I saw a couple of reviews in Goodreads which highlighted this point. “Robert was just going to butter my muffin” literally means buttering a muffin and same holds good for “licking the cream from Fay’s Fancy.” Lol! Half of the villages love Fay’s Fancies and cream.

Moving on…

I really loved the setting and the characterizations. The mystery behind the murder kept me hooked on to the story till the end. The WI gang are a vile set of gossipmongers and this is repeatedly proved throughout the story. Fay is a local baker and not a part of the gossipmongers. Robert takes a liking to her the first time he sets his eyes on her – his words, not mine! Soon, Fay and Robert become friends and as the story ends, much more than just friends.

The victim was called a ‘whore’ by the WI. She was a youngish woman who had married an old man. As Robert learns more and more about the murdered victim, he realizes her murder had something to do with her flings. Torn between falling in love with Fay and trying to solve the mystery behind the murder, Robert has his hands full. And it gets fuller when he receives a call from his publisher (the same guy who stole Robert’s ex!) This is what Robert’s dad would call “a calamity of Robert Engelbart proportions.”

I really enjoyed reading this cozy mystery. I admit the innuendos were getting a bit too much in the second half of the story (everybody fancied Fay’s Fancies!) but this didn’t stop me from liking the story.

If you like cozy mysteries with a rural setting, you might want to give Death at Dapple Dyke by Robin Roughley a try.

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