Title: An Inconspicuous Murder (Maggie Fitzmorris Forensic Mystery #2)
Author: Norah Winter
Published on: 10 June 2022
Genre: Cozy Mystery (Historical)
An Inconspicuous Murder is the second book in Norah Winter’s Maggie Fitzmorris Forensic Mystery series.
Lacey Gibson has died from a fall down a staircase. Dr. Maggie Fitzmorris is enjoying a quiet Sunday when she receives a call from the police station, asking her to come over and console Lacey’s grieving mother.
The police are quick to label Lacey’s death as accidental but when Maggie has a look at the dead body, she wonders why there are no external bruises. If Lacey did slip and fall down the staircase, she could have tried to hold on to something. But it looks like she fell straight down, as if someone pushed her. But that isn’t right either. There’s a small lump at Lacey’s temple, suggesting she hit something. But not hard enough for it to bleed (externally).
Lacey’s fiancé comes forward and claims Lacey and he were to get married soon as she was in the family way. Yet, when Maggie performed the autopsy, she learned that Lacey was not pregnant.
As Maggie does a bit of sleuthing on her own, he realizes there are many suspects. Maggie’s boyfriend Harry is assigned the case. This couldn’t come at a better… or, should I say, worse time? as Maggie and Harry are going through a rough patch in their relationship.
I read the first book of this series a couple of months ago and I really loved the setting and the characters. As the story is set in rural Canada, 1930, we are given a glimpse of what life was like back then. Poverty – government-induced, diseases such as pneumonia and dust lung, gender bias and married women not allowed to work (Maggie too signed a contract that she will remain unmarried when she took up the job as a forensic pathologist), hatred towards immigrants and Jewish doctors being denied hospital privileges (they weren’t allowed to work in hospitals).
Maggie’s initial suspicions are not taken into consideration. She has her doubts about Lacey’s “accidental” death. When she tries to talk to the inspector, he warns her not to pursue and put her job in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Maggie’s boyfriend Harry is losing his patience. He wants to marry her but that means Maggie must quit her job (as per her contract, she had to remain unmarried). Maggie does not want to lose her independence. This means she has to choose one – job or Harry.
The first half of the story was really interesting. As Maggie starts to investigate, she learns a thing or two about the victim – some good, some bad. In the second half, Maggie learns about the victim’s other side (dark) – and this makes it very clear that the victim had many enemies.
There are around 3 to 4 suspects. Maggie starts to question each one of them – sometimes alone, sometimes alongside Harry. In the second half of the book, this gets a little repetitive. Maggie stuck between solving the case (which has come to a standstill) and her dilemma (marry Harry or break up). Even until the very end, Maggie has no idea who the killer she. Her first few guesses turn out to be wrong.
Finally, when the killer is caught red-handed, their name isn’t revealed. It is only in the epilogue that we are told of their identity. Their identity was a bit clear just before their arrest but I would have liked the ending better if their name was revealed then and there.
There is some development in Maggie’s relationship with Harry. For better or worse? Well, we will only know of it in the next book.
Overall, An Inconspicuous Murder by Norah Winter was an interesting read. Very well written and likable protagonist. If you are looking for a historical mystery set in rural Canada, I recommend you to give this book a try.